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October 16, 2013

Man Booker Prize 2013: Youngest star Eleanor Catton joins Booker luminaries

Booker Prize winner Eleanor Catton, second left, at a photocall in London last weekend with fellow shortlisted authors, from left, Jhumpa Lahiri, Colm Tóibín, NoViolet Bulawayo and Ruth Ozeki

Booker Prize winner Eleanor Catton, second left, at a photocall in London last weekend with fellow shortlisted authors, from left, Jhumpa Lahiri, Colm Tóibín, NoViolet Bulawayo and Ruth Ozeki

Eleanor Catton wins at the age of 28 with 832-page novel of ‘astonishing maturity’


Eleanor Catton has become the youngest writer to win the Man Booker Prize, with the longest novel to triumph in the award.

Catton, 28, beat competition from Colm Tóibín, NoViolet Bulawayo, Jhumpa Lahiri, Ruth Ozeki and the favourite, Jim Crace, to be awarded the £50,000 prize by the Duchess of Cornwall at a ceremony in Guildhall in London.

The author began The Luminaries, her second novel, aged 25, and has eclipsed the previous youngest recipient of the award, Ben Okri, who won aged 32 in 1991.


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September 11, 2013

Man Booker Shortlist 2013

Newsletter Img When Robert Macfarlane, the chair of this year’s Man Booker Prize judges, announced the longlist he called it the most diverse in recent memory. He was right, and the same is still true of the shortlist he and his peers have just selected. The 151 novels they started with represented a tour d’horizon of contemporary fiction, a grand vista that encompassed everything from the epic to the miniaturist. The longlist distilled the numbers but kept the flavour and now the shortlist has intensified it further.
The six books on the list could not be more diverse. There are examples from novelists from New Zealand, England, Canada, Ireland and Zimbabwe – each with its own highly distinctive taste. They range in size from the 832 pages of Eleanor Catton’s The Luminaries to the 104-page The Testament of Mary by Colm Tóibín. The times represented stretch from the biblical Middle East (Tóibín) to contemporary Zimbabwe (NoViolet Bulawayo) by way of 19th-century New Zealand (Catton), 1960s India (Jumpha Lahiri), 18th-century rural England (Crace) and modern Tokyo (Ruth Ozeki).

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July 31, 2013

Mixed response to Man Booker longlist


booker-longlist-2013-smaller-pic  By Joshua Farrington

The newly released Man Booker Prize longlist has been praised by the media for its diversity, but criticised for missing several big names and including multiple titles that have yet to be published.

The Guardian praised the judges, and said: “This is a jury not afraid to be experimental.”

It commended the scope of the longlist and said: “The longlist casts a wide net in terms of both geography and time, ranging from the slimmest of novels—Colm Tóibín’s stark, surprising The Testament of Mary conjures the gospel according to Jesus’s mother in a mere 100-odd pages—to vast doorstops, playful with genre and form.”

The Daily Mail focused on authors it saw as being “snubbed” from the Booker list, describing the nominated authors as “obscure . . . mostly unknown”. It said: “This year’s longlist is notable for the number of big-name authors who have been overlooked, including J M Coetzee, Roddy Doyle and Margaret Atwood. Five of the books have yet to be published.”

The Daily Mail also quoted Alex Donohue of bookmaker Ladbrokes, which has appointed Jim Crace as the current favourite at 9/2.

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April 29, 2013

The 10 Best Book Endings

Jessica Soffer

Jessica Soffer

By Jessica Soffer

Jessica Soffer’s Tomorrow There Will Be Apricots is a novel about families, food, and facing uncomfortable truths. It also culminates in a revealing and satisfying ending that brings all its pages together. For Tip Sheet, Soffer shared 10 of her favorite endings in books.

I don’t like to play favorites. It’s not right. Sometimes, it’s an act in futility. Apples and oranges and such, especially in literature. But here we are. Ten Best Book Endings, according to me, a woman who has read as much as she possibly could during her twenty-seven years and who wishes every day for more reading time so that she could say “Ten Best,” and feel more certain. Until then, “best” is a moving target—and I’m not even in possession of all the darts.

Bottom line: the most we can look for is an end that justifies, honors, makes meaningful the means. And sometimes we might hope for an end that does more: an end that outdoes the means. Sometimes, a deftly plotted twist will do the trick, or a really grand grand finale, or a thought so moving, so appropriate that we write it down and keep it in our wallets for years. When endings work they feel both inevitable and earned, which just doesn’t happen in real life where nothing is ever still long enough to really end at all. And so good endings must do more than life: honoring what’s come before, swelling with the promise of what’s to come, and hovering in exactly the right place so that when it’s over, it’s hardly over. It’s just right.

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March 12, 2013

Harvest time for Jim Crace as he signs off with a final novel

CraceJim Crace is one of the finest English novelists of the past 20 years – so why has he written his final novel?

By Eileen Battersby

Despite having written several of the finest British novels of the past 20 years – including Arcadia , Signals of Distress , the Booker short-listed Quarantine and Being Dead – Jim Crace retains not so much a low profile, as his privacy. He smiles contentedly. This is the way he likes it; Crace has always been in control.

There are no autobiographical revelations, no personal drama, no public histrionics. He does not issue wild statements about banishing the elderly to death camp phone booths, nor does he deliver provocative opinions about plastic princesses. Compact and self-contained, Jim Crace is a practical, determinedly ordinary individual, who lives in an ordinary home on the outskirts of Birmingham. It’s not quite urban and not quite rural, of both and of neither: again, it’s just the way he likes it.

Crace participates in conversations, not interviews. These conversations are so informative and interesting that it is only later that the interviewer can fully marvel at how good naturedly he or she has been kept at a distance by a writer whose vision is both profound and moral, yet who refuses to take himself seriously. Or perhaps he is just good at concealing it? The confident, canny Crace is elusive, make no mistake about it.

There is nothing calm or predictable about his imagination, which resides in a vivid subversive place best described as Craceland – it must be so as he does not believe in researching facts. After all, if you are telling a story, why not make it all up, including the plants and the famous old poets?

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November 3, 2012

Colm Tóibín’s Favorite Novels About Religious Figures

Irish writer Colm Tóibín has earned nearly every moniker a man of letters can hold: novelist, poet, playwright, journalist, critic, essayist, and even travel writer. His fiction includes the novels Brooklyn and The Master, and his nonfiction ranges from essays on Henry James to musings on the families of writers in New Ways to Kill Your Mother. Tóibín’s latest project covers hallowed ground, where few are brave enough to tread. His novella, The Testament of Mary, is told from the perspective of Jesus’s mother. Elderly and near the end of her life, she reflects on her son’s legacy at the dawn of Christianity. Tóibín shares with Goodreads his top five novels that use fiction to explore the lives of spiritual icons.

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