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Who to put your shirt on

Who to put your shirt on

So, with only a matter of days until the unveiling of the Man Booker Prize winner of 2015 on 13 October, who, according to the bookies at least, is the front runner? As things stand Hanya Yanagihara is favourite, with the best odds being offered on A Little Life being 6/4, then come Sunjeev Sahota (9/2), Marlon James (6/1), Chigozie Obioma (10/1), Anne Tyler (12/1), Tom McCarthy (20/1). By my reckoning, a tenner on Obioma's The Fisherman (if it wins) would give the lucky punter just enough money to buy all six shortlisted books with change left to buy a drink and toast the winner.

 

Marilynne Robinson, one of this year's longlistees with Lila, and one of last year's shortlistees, Karen Joy Fowler, have both made it on to the shortlist of the biennial £25,000 Warwick Prize for Writing. Robert Macfarlane, chair of the 2013 Man Booker panel, is one of the judges. The prize is open to any genre of writing and the theme of this year's version was ‘Instinct’. Just how broad a remit ‘Instinct’ is is evidenced by the fact that Fowler's book deals with having a chimp as a sibling while Robinson's has at it centre a homeless woman who finds sanctuary. It is a word that covers all of human (and animal) life. The winner will be announced on 10 November.

 

Macfarlane, along with 2014 judge Jonathan Bate, are both on the longlist for the Samuel Johnson Prize for Non-fiction. The shortlist will be announced this Sunday 11 October at the Southbank Centre in London, as part of the London Literature Festival. Last year's winner, Helen Macdonald (H is for Hawk) will also be giving a talk. For tickets visit here. There is another chance to hear about the shortlisted books at a British Academy event on 27 October, chaired by the 2009 Man Booker chief judge Jim Naughtie. For details go here. Failing that, the winner will be announced on 2 November and you can simply buy the book.

 

Rachel Cusk, Man Booker longlisted in 2005, is having a bit of a moment. Her version of Euripides' Medea has just opened at the Almeida Theatre in London to rave reviews. Not that the opening was an unalloyed joy: she was tempted to spend the evening ‘around the corner in a pub with a bag over my head’. The play, her first, is, she says, not about infanticide but about divorce – the sort of modern problem that is the stuff of her fiction. Cusk's novel Outline is also on the shortlist for Canada's premier literary award, the $100,000 Giller Prize. It transpires – and not a lot of people know this – that the long-term Brit Cusk is in fact Canadian. We'll soon be discovering next that Hilary Mantel is in fact from Azerbaijan.

 

Another Canadian, Margaret Atwood (Man Booker winner 2000 and five times shortlisted) has been talking about the art of writing to coincide with the publication of her latest novel, The Heart Goes Last. First, despite the fact that she has written more than 40 works, she is not prolific: ‘Joyce Carol Oates is prolific; I’m just old,’ she says. How does she do it then? She sets herself a ‘schedule of pages rather than a schedule of times’ and aims to complete three to five pages a day. Very noble . . . or not quite: ‘You can cheat by increasing the type size.’