Literary Quote of the Month

"A reader lives a thousand lives before he dies," said Jojen. "The man who never reads lives only one." - George R.R. Martin, A Dance With Dragons

Saturday, August 7, 2010

The Sunday Salon... The Man Booker Prize, What's on That list Anyway?

Hey, it's Sunday! Welcome to The Sunday Salon! Pull up a chair, grab a cup of joe and relax among the stacks of books that sit high around you in the virtual reading room we all gather together in once a week, the place where we chat about something we all love - books and reading! It was a busy week here in Connecticut and I wanted to chat about The Man Booker Prize, but never got a chance, so today I thought we'd take a look at the longlist and a closer look at a few of those books that are screaming for a little more attention...

So, what is The Man Booker Prize? "The Man Booker Prize promotes the finest in fiction by rewarding the very best book of the year." Some refer to The Man Booker Prize as the UK's version of the Pulitzer Prize. In 1968 a company by the name of Booker-McConnell began sponsoring the event. Originally known as the Booker-McConnell Prize, it became commonly known as the "Booker Prize". In 2002, the administration of the prize was transferred to the Booker Prize Foundation, and the sponsor became the investment company Man Group, which kept "Booker" as part of the official title of the prize, but added Man, and now we have The Man Booker Prize. It's a prestigious award, garnering the winner an amazing amount of press & promotion and can literally make an author's career! And yes, there's a bit of money along with all that fame... 50,000 British pounds, (or almost $80,000).

The Rules of The Man Booker Prize...
  • Any full-length novel, written by a citizen of the Commonwealth (Commonwealth of Nations), the Republic of Ireland or Zimbabwe, and published in the United Kingdom for the first time in the year of the prize is eligible.
  • Authors must be living at the time of the award.
  • Self published books are not eligible.
  • Novel must be written originally in English, translations are not eligible.
  • All entries must be published in the United Kingdom between the required dates, but previous publication of a book outside the UK does not disqualify it.
  • For this years prize, all books must be published in the UK between 1 October 2009 and 30 September 2010.
On July 27th, The Man Booker Prize Longlist, or The Man Booker Dozen, were announced! Here's the list...

Parrot and Olivier in America by Peter Carey (Faber and Faber)

Room by Emma Donoghue (Pan MacMillan - Picador)

The Betrayal by Helen Dunmore (Penguin - Fig Tree)

In a Strange Room by Damon Galgut (Grove Atlantic - Atlantic Books)

The Finkler Question by Howard Jacobson (Bloomsbury)

The Long Song by Andrea Levy (Headline Publishing Group )

C by Tom McCarthy (Random House - Jonathan Cape)

The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet by David Mitchell (Hodder & Stoughton - Sceptre)

February by Lisa Moore (Random House - Chatto & Windus)

Skippy Dies by Paul Murray (Penguin - Hamish Hamilton)

Trespass by Rose Tremain (Random House - Chatto & Windus)

The Slap by Christos Tsiolkas (Grove Atlantic - Tuskar Rock)

The Stars in the Bright Sky by Alan Warner (Random House)

The shortlist, consisting of 6 of these books, will be announced September 7th! Which books will be on that list? Right after the announcement of the longlist, The Guardian shared where the bookies were placing their bets: The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet by David Mitchell is the favorite at 9:2 odds.

Here are three of those long listed books that caught my eye and are on my wish list...

The Long Song by Andrea Levy... The story of the last turbulent years of slavery and the early years of freedom in 19th century America. Told in the irresistibly willful and intimate voice of Miss July, with some editorial assistance from her son, Thomas, The Long Song is at once defiant, funny, and shocking. The child of a field slave on the Amity sugar plantation, July lives with her mother until Mrs. Caroline Mortimer, a recently transplanted English widow, decides to move her into the great house and rename her “Marguerite.” Resourceful and mischievous, July soon becomes indispensable to her mistress. Together they live through the bloody Baptist war, followed by the violent and chaotic end of slavery. Taught to read and write so that she can help her mistress run the business, July remains bound to the plantation despite her “freedom.” It is the arrival of a young English overseer, Robert Goodwin, that will dramatically change life in the great house for both July and her mistress. Prompted and provoked by her son’s persistent questioning, July’s resilience and heartbreak are gradually revealed in this extraordinarily powerful story of slavery, revolution, freedom, and love. Read an Excerpt from Andrea Levy's website. *Hey, This Book is Kindle Ready!

The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet by David Mitchell... The year is 1799, the place Dejima in Nagasaki Harbor, the “high-walled, fan-shaped artificial island” that is the Japanese Empire’s single port and sole window onto the world, designed to keep the West at bay; the farthest outpost of the war-ravaged Dutch East Indies Company; and a de facto prison for the dozen foreigners permitted to live and work there. To this place of devious merchants, deceitful interpreters, costly courtesans, earthquakes, and typhoons comes Jacob de Zoet, a devout and resourceful young clerk who has five years in the East to earn a fortune of sufficient size to win the hand of his wealthy fiancĂ©e back in Holland. But Jacob’s original intentions are eclipsed after a chance encounter with Orito Aibagawa, the disfigured daughter of a samurai doctor and midwife to the city’s powerful magistrate. The borders between propriety, profit, and pleasure blur until Jacob finds his vision clouded, one rash promise made and then fatefully broken. The consequences will extend beyond Jacob’s worst imaginings. As one cynical colleague asks, “Who ain’t a gambler in the glorious Orient, with his very life?” Ok, maybe the bookies are right about this one. This book sounds like it would be a great read, and I am always up for reading a book that takes place in the setting of Japan. Read an Excerpt at Hey, This book is Kindle Ready!

Skippy Dies by Paul Murray... Why Skippy dies and what happens next is the subject of this dazzling and uproarious novel, unraveling a mystery that links the boys of Seabrook College to their parents and teachers in ways nobody could have imagined. With a cast of characters that ranges from hip-hop-loving fourteen-year-old Eoin “MC Sexecutioner” Flynn to basketballplaying midget Philip Kilfether, packed with questions and answers on everything from Ritalin, to M-theory, to bungee jumping, to the hidden meaning of the poetry of Robert Frost, Skippy Dies is a heartfelt, hilarious portrait of the pain, joy, and occasional beauty of adolescence, and a tragic depiction of a world always happy to sacrifice its weakest members. This books sounds like a modern day Catcher in the Rye, and sounds like a great departure from the normal "serious" literary novels usually found on these lists. This book will be released in the US August 31st! Hey, This Book will be Kindle Ready!

A few of the long listed books have gotten a lot of great buzz before The Man Booker Prize... The Slap by Christos Tsiolkas, which is a story about the consequences of "slapping" someone else's child while disciplining them and sounds like a very current storyline, and Parrot and Olivier in America by Peter Carey, which is a story of friendship & adventure between an aristocrat and his servant as they depart for the new world. Maybe a buddy story? Have you read any of the books in the long list? Share your likes and dislikes! I love The Man Booker Prize! There are so many great new books to discover with the lists each year, and that's why this Prize is so coveted - winning this Prize will sell books. Last year's winner for The Man Booker Prize was Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel, which is historical fiction and mixes fact with fiction during the 16th century and treats the reader to Henry VIII, Kathryn of Aragon, the Boleyn Sisters from the perspective of Thomas Cromwell. Wolf Hall is due out in paperback August 31st, and is of course, Kindle Ready now!

You can find out all the scoop about the Man Booker Prize at the While you're there you can also find all the past winners. You can also find great coverage of the long listed books at The Guardian UK. In the meantime, I hope you found some great reading for yourself!

Happy Reading... Suzanne


The Yard Bard said...

Okay, I must read Skippy Dies and Wolf Hall. Gotta, gotta, gotta! Hey, how are books chosen for this competition? Are they submitted for consideration by the authors, or by folks who've read them?

Suzanne Yester said...

Hi Yard Bard,
The publishers get to submit 2 books out of all the books they've published during the time period. Then the judges can also request a publisher submit a book if they like something that wasn't submitted. This year I think there were 138 books submitted. Talk about pressure to read! :-)

I have Wolf Hall sitting in my reading pile and haven't gotten to it yet, but I've got to get to it! I just love that time period.

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