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A new channel, Man Booker TV

A new channel, Man Booker TV

Good news for Sally Rooney ahead of the Man Booker shortlist announcement: her longlisted novel, Normal People, has been bought for a BBC television serialisation, and the book isn't even officially out yet. Rooney, who is herself in charge of the adaptation, is in good hands since the director is Lenny Abrahamson, the man behind two other Man Booker adaptations – Emma Donoghue's 2010 shortlisted Room and Sarah Waters's 2009 shortlisted The Little Stranger. The story is one of intimacy and desire that follows a couple from the west of Ireland from school to college and into real life and tracks the changes of their relationship along the way.

 

Daisy Johnson, another longlistee, meanwhile, has her thought on other things. In a recent interview she revealed that were she not a writer “I think I’d like to be a shepherd.” How this would square with some of her other admissions is less than clear, since she likes watching episodes of ER on repeat and that she's currently irked by “adverts for waxing products where the women have entirely hairless legs”. At least hairy legs are most likely helpful for a shepherd. Just to show that she's keeping it real, when asked what might make her life better, she was candid: “Winning the Man Booker Prize. I’d also love, right now, a cup of coffee and some cheese on toast.”

 

Nick Drnaso, another longlistee, remains slightly defensive about his graphic novel Sabrina being picked by the Man Booker judges. Recently asked a whopper of a question, “What is the role of the graphic novelist in modern society?”, he clearly felt uncomfortable: “I'm not insisting I deserve a place anywhere, and I certainly never thought the medium was unappreciated or deserved more legitimacy. I guess I've been pretty insulated in my comics bubble [sic] in a way I hadn't realised, I just don't hear a lot of conversations about this.” Wishing he were back at the drawing board, he continued: “They are different mediums, so I understand the frustration some have with Sabrina being nominated. I didn't put the book up for the award, and I'm sort of embarrassed by that kind of attention.” His embarrassment will increase exponentially if Sabrina is shortlisted in 20 September.

 

When Barack Obama became President of the United States he started to release a list of the books he would be taking on his summer holidays. Since leaving office he has kept up the tradition. “This summer I’ve been absorbed by new novels,” he said, “revisited an old classic, and reaffirmed my faith in our ability to move forward together when we seek the truth.” The books that he will be covering with suntan lotion and sand include two Man Booker figures, Michael Ondaatje's longlisted Warlight and the recently deceased V.S. Naipaul's A House for Mr Biswas. There is no sign yet of President Trump releasing a list of his own mind-improving reading.

 

The great Diana Athill, literary figure and memoirist, was Naipaul's first publisher and recently recalled the occasion when he won the then plain Booker Prize for In a Free State in 1971. “He’d always behave as if things like this were a bore, and he said he wouldn’t go,” she recalls, “I very rarely scolded him, but at this point I said: 'You will bloody well come. How can we go on publishing you if you won’t collaborate?' He behaved reasonably well. He didn’t walk out, which he often did. I don’t think he ever thanked anyone for anything, but he rather grudgingly went up and got his cheque.” In a telling aside she noted that “By that stage I was working very hard at keeping affection for him”, something she stopped doing later because “You don’t have to be a good person to be a good writer.”