Booking a Room with a View

Join me as I shuttle and shoulder through the worlds of literature, cinema, and the awards seasons attending both.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

There has been a great deal of news on the Booker Prize front this morning, both exciting and melancholic.

To begin: Booker Prize-winner Stanley Middleton has died at age 89 following a long fight with cancer. I haven't read his novel Holiday (co-winner in 1974) yet, but am looking forward to doing so. An article about his life and death can be found here.

In other news, 2009's judges have announced the Booker Prize longlist and it is as follows:

A.S. Byatt's The Children's Book
J.M. Coetzee's Summertime
Adam Foulds's The Quickening Maze
Sarah Hall's How to paint a dead man
Samantha Harvey's The Wilderness
James Lever's Me Cheeta
Hilary Mantel's Wolf Hall
Simon Mawer's The Glass Room
Ed O'Loughlin's Not Untrue & Not Unkind
James Scudamore's Heliopolis
Colm Toibin's Brooklyn
William Trevor's Love and Summer
Sarah Waters's The Little Stranger

My wife and I bought the Byatt novel for my brother last month, and I'm looking forward to buying it for myself once the resolution moratorium is at an end. I'm a little surprised at the inclusion of Sarah Hall's book as -- from the little I've read in the press -- it sounds more like a collection of stories than a novel. But a number of writers these days (including last year's winner Aravind Adiga with his recent Between the Assassinations) seem to be marketing their short fiction collections as novels, perhaps in an effort to shoehorn in on prize eligibilities (including the Booker's) from which they'd otherwise be excluded. I've read a lot about Mantel's new novel, and I've been arguing for months now that it will be the one to beat; I'm most excited to read it, I think. Lever's "novel" seems off-putting and bizarre, the kind of book it would take an act of God to make me read. Toibin's has earned fine reviews, but hasn't interested me (I have it in proof -- if anyone reading this would like it, leave a comment letting me know as much and an e-mail address, if I don't have already it). Trevor's new one sounds wonderful -- his fiction never fails to move me. Waters's newest novel is good (I read it in proof), but lacks the virtuosic narrative pull of her previous two books (both Booker Prize nominees).

The shortlist will be announced 8 September.

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