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Weekly Roundup: Literary daughters and novel cures

Weekly Roundup: Literary daughters and novel cures

Jim Crace, one of this year's Man Booker shortlistees, has also been nominated for the inaugural Goldsmith's Prize (co-created by the New Statesman magazine) for Harvest. The £10,000 award will go to the British or Republic of Ireland writer whose work of fiction is “deemed genuinely novel and which embodies the spirit of invention that characterises the genre at its best”. Also on the list is Ali Smith, MB shortlisted in 2005, for Artful. The winner will be announced on 13th November.

It must be nice to be wanted. Both Canada and New Zealand claim the Man Booker shortlisted Eleanor Catton as their own literary daughter – Catton was born in Ontario but grew up in Christchurch. The Canadians are making clear their right of ownership by shortlisting her for the $25,000 Governor General's Fiction Prize. The winner will be announced on 15th November so there's time for her to polish up her (non-existent) Canadian lilt.

Another literary daughter is Georgia Grinter, scion of Victoria Grinter, a Man Booker aficionado. Victoria recently wrote to us on the eve of her daughter's 18th birthday to share a charming and clever idea that other literary parents might like to emulate. “I have collected, through family, friends and secondhand bookstalls, the entire collection of Booker prizewinners from 1995-2013 – her 18 years – as my gift to her: a quality library of great novels, with personal reviews given by those who have donated to the collection, including the secondhand bookshop in Bath’s Guildmarket! My daughter really enjoys reading but lacks time, like most students her age, so likes me to recommend books and to talk about them together. Now she will have her own, very personal collection to work through during her coming university years. Regards, Victoria Grinter. PS 2013? I have a signed copy of Colm Tóibín’s Testament of Mary from a recent reading he did at Toppings in Bath. We’ll have to wait and see if I’m right!” Please be assured that Georgia's birthday passed before this item appeared, so no surprises were spoilt.

Georgia is now old enough to bet – not, we hasten to add, that the MB would encourage it. Nevertheless, some followers of the prize treat it a little like the Grand National and make it the occasion for their annual flutter. With a matter of days to go before the announcement of the winner on 15th October, bookies have so far taken in more than £15,000 in bets. The odds at the time of writing show Jim Crace at 6/4, Eleanor Catton at 10/3, Jhumpa Lahiri and NoViolet Bulawayo at 7/1 and Ruth Ozeki at 17/2. Should Georgia be tempted to stake some of her birthday money on Colm Tóibín he currently stands at 7/2. It should be pointed out that at this moment the judges themselves don't know who the winner will be so the bookies are not just in the dark but in a gloom as stygian as a black cat in a coal cellar.

The Guardian has just run an item suggesting an A-Z of books to read to cure the reader afflicted with ailments from apathy to zestlessness. Naturally some MB books figure. The cure for “B for boredom”, for example, is Room by Emma Donoghue (MB shortlisted in 2010): “Kicking the walls from boredom? Be chastened by the number of things Ma finds to occupy her son in the garden shed where they've been held captive for five years – with little more than a table, a wardrobe, a pile of eggshells and some cereal boxes.” While Yann Martel's MB-winning Life of Pi is the answer to “J is for Jam, being in a…”. Naturally, we'd like to suggest that the cure for “E is for ennui” is any of the six books on this year's shortlist.