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A flood of Man Booker films

A flood of Man Booker films

Man Booker winners have a long history of making a successful transition from page to screen – think Thomas Keneally's Schindler's Ark, Kazuo Ishiguro's The Remains of the Day, Michael Ondaatje's The English Patient, Yann Martel's Life of Pi and, of course, Hilary Mantel's Thomas Cromwell duo. Last year it was announced that Margaret Atwood's futuristic trilogy comprising Oryx and Crake, The Year of the Flood and MaddAddam would be turned into a television mini-series for HBO. Atwood won the (then) Booker in 2000, has been shortlisted three times and twice too for the MB International Prize for good measure and the trilogy has already inspired a band named The Knife to call two songs on their album Shaking The Habitual ‘Oryx’ and ‘Crake’. The brave soul taking on the task of giving her words visual form though is Darren Aronofsky who has to deal with the novels' post-apocalyptic world featuring a global pandemic and genetically modified animals. News on progress remains sparse though the project has apparently been given the green light. Aronofsky may be just the chap for the job: his films include Noah, which is perhaps the first post-apocalyptic story of them all. 

Atwood has a new book, The Heart Goes Last, coming out in September – her first stand-alone novel since the Man Booker winning The Blind Assassin. Another date worth marking in the diary is for Karen Joy Fowler, shortlisted last year for her simian family story We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves, who also has a new novel appearing – Sister Noon, due in May.

On the subject of families, David Nicholls, one of last year's Man Booker nominees, has just predicted the rise of a new literary genre: ‘divorce comedy’. The author of One Day and Us reckons the fact that we are living longer will also mean we divorce later in life, providing rich pickings for novelists. ‘Difficult families, unconventional families, families that don’t live in the traditional two-parents-three-kids way; those stories are going to become more common,’ he says. ‘Fifty isn’t as old as it once was, for men and women.’ Quite right too. He went on to note that ‘The idea of being another 20, 30, 40 years with someone is sometimes quite scary.’ David Nicholls is a happily married man with two children.

If you still have your diary out it might well be worth noting too that some of the nominees for the Man Booker International Prize will be talking at the British Library on May 17 ahead of the announcement of the winner on the 19th. To book a place for what should be a fascinating event go here. Should you find yourself in South Africa on March 26 then you can hear the prize's judges discussing exactly what they are looking for in a winner at a panel event at the University of Cape Town, where the list of finalists will be announced on March 24.

A distinguished cluster of Man Booker novelists have been included on the shortlist for this year's Walter Scott Prize for Historical Fiction. Among those in contention are Sarah Waters, Damon Galgut, Sebastian Barry, Adam Foulds, Martin Amis and Paul Kingsnorth. The longlist is indeed long – 15 books – but will be whittled down to six on March 24 when the shortlist is announced. The winner will be named at the Borders Book Festival on June 13 and can have their name inscribed alongside former Man Booker alumni Hilary Mantel and Tan Twan Eng.