Last night, I went to the Southbank Centre to listen to the shortlisted authors for this year’s Man Booker Prize give readings from their nominated novels. I really enjoyed a similar event for the Women’s Prize for Fiction in June so I bought a ticket for this one as soon as possible.
The shortlist is as follows:We Need New Names by NoViolet Bulawayo The Luminaries by Eleanor Catton Harvest by Jim Crace The Lowland by Jhumpa Lahiri A Tale for the Time Being by Ruth L. Ozeki The Testament of Mary by Colm Tóibín
So far, I have read ‘The Testament of Mary‘ by Colm Tóibín and ‘A Tale for the Time Being‘ by Ruth Ozeki. I definitely preferred the latter and hope it has a good chance of winning the overall prize. I have also read Jhumpa Lahiri’s short stories and first novel ‘The Namesake‘ and will soon be reading ‘The Rehearsal’ by Eleanor Catton who was shortlisted for ‘The Luminaries’. I am particularly interested in reading ‘The Lowland’ and ‘The Luminaries’ in the future. I might also seek out ‘Harvest’ and ‘We Need New Names’ but I am not in a hurry to do so right now.
Anyway, this is what the South Bank looks like on a rainy Sunday in mid-October (the light and my photography skills are both very poor, by the way).
There was a cheese and wine market behind Royal Festival Hall. I didn’t buy anything, but here is a picture of some cheese.
This is the Southbank Centre. Again, my photography skills and the light are both pretty poor but, let’s face it, unless you’re a fan of Brutalist architecture, the building itself still isn’t exactly stunning to look at either.
Upon arrival, I found a free bookmark and shiny programme on my seat. The programme included lots of interesting facts about the history of the Booker Prize. Did you know that Kingsley Amis announced that he planned to buy new curtains with his prize money when he won in 1986 for ‘The Old Devils’? Well, now you do.
Taking photographs during the event and the signings was prohibited for lowly audience members like myself but you can see some official pictures on the Man Booker Prize Twitter page. A recording of the event itself is also available to watch here on the Man Booker Prize website (you will need to fast forward about 28 minutes before it finally starts). For those of you who use Twitter, #ManBookerLive is the official hashtag for the event.
Introduced by James Runcie and presented by Mark Lawson, the event saw the six authors give readings from their shortlisted books and answer a range of questions about their work. Jim Crace missed the beginning of the event but turned up just as he was due to give his reading, telling the audience to “Never try to drive from Dorset to London in an hour and a half”. NoViolet Bulawayo and Jhumpa Lahiri discussed themes of identity in their work while Ruth Ozeki explained how she finished the original draft of ‘A Tale for the Time Being’ about three years ago and then rewrote it following the tsunami in March 2011.
Eleanor Catton and Colm Tóibín were inevitably asked about the length of their novels (over 800 pages and 100 pages respectively). Catton’s novel ‘The Luminaries’ has a very particular structure with 12 sections in which each section is half the length of the previous one resulting in a very long novel. Tóibín explained that the reason why ‘The Testament of Mary’ is so short is because the tone of it could not have been sustained for any longer (if you have read it, then you will realise why that makes sense).
As I read a library copy of ‘The Testament of Mary’ and an eBook of ‘A Tale for the Time Being’ I couldn’t get either of them signed by the authors. Although I would like to read ‘The Lowland’ and ‘The Luminaries’, I can’t really afford to buy new hardback books at the moment (being unemployed sucks, by the way) so instead, I bought second-hand copies of ‘The Rehearsal’ by Eleanor Catton and ‘My Year of Meat’ by Ruth Ozeki from Oxfam.
And here are my signed copies…
The winner will be announced tomorrow. Who do you think will win and who do you want to win?