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Women can write. Official

Women can write. Official


The announcement of the longlist for the Bailey's Women's Prize for Fiction sees a sizeable cohort of Man Booker heroines taking their place among the 16 contenders for the £30,000 gong. Margaret Atwood, Man Booker winner in 2000 with The Blind Assassin, is there for her Shakespeare revamp Hagseed; Rose Tremain, a Man Booker judge in 1998 and a shortlistee with Restoration the following year, gets the nod for The Gustav Sonata; Linda Grant, a shortlistee in 2008 with The Clothes on their Backs, is nominated for The Dark Circle; Madeleine Thien, a shortlistee last year is picked for Do Not Say We Have Nothing. Since all these women have already proved their worth in the non-gendered Man Booker the Bailey's should prove a doddle.



Who knows, you might have a spare minute in your day, in which case rather than twiddling your thumbs you might want to go over to YouTube to see a snippet about the forthcoming film adaptation of Julian Barnes's 2011 Man Booker winner The Sense of an Ending. At a meet-the-press gathering Jim Broadbent, who plays the central character Tony, recalled that ‘someone asked me what preparation I had to do but I didn't have to do any really because I knew who he was from the word go’. The film, which also stars Michelle Dockery, Harriet Walter and Charlotte Rampling, is released in America this week but not in Britain until 14 April; the official trailer will have to do until then.



Should you ever wonder about the sensibility of the Man Booker judges – what interests them, what their quirks or outlook might be – Tom Phillips, one of this year's cohort, is providing an unusual opportunity for some psychological probing. Phillips is many things – a painter (a Royal Academician no less), print maker, librettist and composer. And to mark his 80th birthday, the South London Gallery – the gallery where he first exhibited as a student – in the artist's home of Peckham is planning to host two performances and an audio visual installation of his opera Irma. The performances will take place on 16 and 17 September, exactly, that is, when Phillips will be rereading the Man Booker shortlist and grappling with who might be the winner. A retrospective of his artwork is also being held at Flowers Gallery, Cork Street, from 26 May to 1 July. The two celebrations might offer Man Booker clues. Or, then again, they might not.



The Australian author Kate Grenville, Man Booker shortlisted in 2006 for The Secret River, has just been awarded the 2017 Australia Council Award for Lifetime Achievement in Literature. The accolade acknowledges the achievements of writers over the age of 60 who have made an outstanding contribution to Australian literature. Previous recipients include David Malouf, a contender for the 2011 Man Booker International Prize, and the great Tom Keneally, Man Booker winner  in 1982 with Schindler's Ark. Grenville's The Secret River was unusual in that researching the story about Australia's colonial past led her to follow the novel with a memoir, Searching for the Secret River, about the writing of the book and her personal links with the tale – her great-great-great grandfather was a convict sent to Australia from London in 1806.