You are here

Now for something completely different

Now for something completely different

The reuniting of the Monty Python team for a series of shows at the O2 Dome in London may not seem to have much to do with the Man Booker Prize but there is though a link. When he's not goofing on stage Terry Jones is currently filming a sci-fi comedy called Absolutely Anything which includes fellow Pythons Michael Palin, Terry Gilliam and John Cleese alongside Simon Pegg and Kate Beckinsale. The film is due for release next year and the plot apparently involves a teacher who experiences a series of mishaps after discovering he has magical powers. One of these mishaps is that the teacher, played by Pegg, dreams he has won the Man Booker. The film version of the prize ceremony sees Pegg trampled to the ground by a pack of dogs, something that has yet to happen in the grandeur of the Guildhall where the real thing takes place.

Howard Jacobson (MB winner 2010) is as adroit in front of a camera as he is on the page. His latest televisual foray is a two-part documentary called Rebels of Oz in which Jacobson looks at the careers of the quartet of Australian ex-pats comprising Barry Humphries, Robert Hughes, Germaine Greer and Clive James. Part one is available on BBC iPlayer here and the second episode is broadcast on Tuesday. For good measure, Jacobson has a new novel, J, out in September: “Set in the future, a world where the past is a dangerous country, not to be talked about or visited, J is a love story of incomparable strangeness, both tender and terrifying” – almost as far from the Jewish north London of The Finkler Question as Britain is from Australia then.

As part of its Festival of Love, the groovy Southbank Centre in London is holding an evening of readings of the “50 Greatest Love Poems”. The event, on 20th July, promises the best international love poems from the last 50 years read by “50 leading actors and poets from across the globe to form an orchestra of readers” (sounds rather as though they are in love with the number 50). Among the selected poets are a couple of writers better known for their Man Booker novels than their verse: Margaret Atwood (MB winner in 2000) with Variations on the Word Love and Chinua Achebe (MB International Prize winner in 2007) with Love Song (for Anna).

Philip Hensher, gamekeeper turned poacher as a MB judge in 2001 and shortlistee in 2008, has a new novel out, The Emperor Waltz. The book includes plots from different historical periods and to mark the fact he has compiled a list of his top 10 parallel narratives in fiction. “We're connected by more than we understand,” says Hensher, “and the novel can explain some of that shared humanity by placing quite unconnected events side by side. I wasn't the first novelist to think like this.” Indeed he wasn't: his list dominated by MB writers – Tim Winton, V.S. Naipaul, William Golding, and the Rachels Seiffert and Cusk all feature.