Monday, October 10, 2005

Booker 2005 Winner

John Banville was named the winner of the £50,000 Man Booker Prize for Fiction with The Sea, published by Picador.
Chairperson of the Judges John Sutherland commented, “In an extraordinarily closely contested last round, in which the judges felt the level of the shortlisted novels was as high as it can ever have been, they have agreed to award the Man Booker Prize to John Banville’s The Sea, a masterly study of grief, memory and love recollected. The judges salute all the shortlisted novels.”

Sunday, October 09, 2005

The Booker 2005

The 37th Booker Prize is to be announced on the 10th of October 2005 at the awards dinner ceremony to be held at at Guildhall, London. Winning the Booker is every fiction writers dream. Novels which have won or have been nominated for the Booker have gone on to become bestsellers.

On 10th of August the Long List of 17 books was chosen from a total of 109 entries. Almost a month later, i.e. on 8th September the Short List i.e the Final nominations of 5 books was announced. This year's Booker nominations has an impressive array, with authors being shortlisted previously too. Following is a short synopsis of the entries and the authors for the 2005 Booker.

The first nominee is The Sea by John Banville. Born in Wexford, Ireland in 1945, John Banville is an old name in the literary circle. His novels have won many an impressive awards in the past. The Book of Evidence (1989), which won the Guinness Peat Aviation Book Award and was shortlisted for the Booker Prize for Fiction. Dr Copernicus which won the James Tait Black Memorial Prize (for fiction) was the first in a series of books exploring the lives of eminent scientists and scientific ideas.

The Sea is simultaneously about growing up and growing old. Its narrator, now in his sixties, is revisiting the Irish coastal resort where, as a child, he encountered the Grace family, who mysteriously changed his life. But Max Morden is not simply retrieving his childhood. His wife having died, he is also in flight from bereavement and the smell of mortality. Interweaving traumatic episodes from his remote and recent past, the novel is concerned with rites of passage: coming-of-age and coming of old age; awakening and dying. Read more...

The second nominee is Arthur and George by Julian Barnes. Born in Liecester in 1946, Julian Barnes has many a classic fiction novels up his sleeve. His much acclaimed novel Flaubert's Parrot (1984), was shortlisted for the Booker Prize for Fiction and won the Geoffrey Faber Memorial Prize. In 1995 he was made Officier de l'Ordre des Arts et des Lettres (France). He was awarded the E. M. Forster Award in 1986 by the American Academy of Arts and Letters, and the German Shakespeare Prize from the Alfred Toepfer Foundation in Hamburg in 1993.

Arthur & George recounts Conan Doyle's own detective adventure. The novel begins as a pair of alternating biographies, a tale of opposites. On the one hand, a boy full of dreams, the young Conan Doyle, listening to Arthurian legend in his mam's Scottish kitchen, a promising athlete and scholar, the classroom wit and storyteller; on the other, a boy stripped of imagination, one George Edalji, son of a vicar in rural Staffordshire, poor and myopic, friendless and stolid. George Edalji, who trained as a solicitor, was the victim of a famous miscarriage of justice, convicted in 1903 of mutilating livestock in his parish. After his release from a seven-year prison sentence, it was Conan Doyle who championed his case for a pardon in the newspapers and in parliament. The writer was asked many times in his life to put on Holmes's cloak and solve a mystery himself; the Edalji case was the only time he agreed. For much of the book, Barnes cuts quickly between these two fates - a page on Arthur, one on George - meticulously mapping their journey before they finally meet. You might expect along the way, from this author, some trickery, but Barnes seems more concerned here with an absolute formal clarity. Read More...

The next on the Short List is A Long Long Way by Sebastian Barry. Born in Dublin in 1955, Sebastian Barry is known more for his plays than his Novels. His early plays include Boss Grady's Boys (1990), which opened in 1988, and won the BBC/Stewart Parker Award. His play The Steward of Christendom (1995), won the Christopher Ewart-Biggs Memorial Prize, the Ireland/America Literary Prize, the Critics' Circle Award for Best New Play and the Writers' Guild Award (Best Fringe Play). Sebastian Barry also won the Lloyds Private Banking Playwright of the Year award in the same year. Our Lady of Sligo (1998) was joint winner of the Peggy Ramsay Play Award, and was seen off-Broadway, and Hinterland, premiered at the Abbey Theatre, Dublin, and the Royal National Theatre, London in 2002. His previous novels are, The Whereabouts of Eneas McNulty (1998), translated into seven languages, and Annie Dunne (2002).

In A Long Long WaySebastian Barry has created a powerful new novel about divided loyalties and the realities of war. In 1914, Willie Dunne, barely eighteen years old, leaves behind Dublin, his family, and the girl he plans to marry in order to enlist in the Allied forces and face the Germans on the Western Front. Once there, he encounters a horror of violence and gore he could not have imagined and sustains his spirit with only the words on the pages from home and the camaraderie of the mud-covered Irish boys who fight and die by his side. Dimly aware of the political tensions that have grown in Ireland in his absence, Willie returns on leave to find a world split and ravaged by forces closer to home. Despite the comfort he finds with his family, he knows he must rejoin his regiment and fight until the end. Read More....

Never Let Me Go by Kazua Ishiguro is the next nominee for the Booker. Born in Nagasaki, Japan, in 1954, Ishiguro came to Britain at the age of five. His previous literary efforts make a very impressive list.A Pale View of Hills (Winifred Holtby Prize),An Artist of the Floating World(shortlisted for Booker),The Remains of the Day,(1989 Winner of Booker Prize), The Unconsoled(Winner of Cheltenham Prize) and When we were Orphans (Shortlisted for Booker).

Never Let Me Go is a cleverly understated account of the lives of three children growing up together. It is also a hard-hitting comment upon one of the great scientific debates of current times; genetic engineering. The story is told by one of the children, Kath. Now in her early thirties, she is looking back upon her childhood relationship with her two closest friends, Ruth and Tommy. On the face of it, this is a novel about three children who formed a close bond whilst at a boarding school, a bond that continued into their adult lives. However, their seemingly idyllic childhood is not all that it appears. As Kath's memories unfold, more and more is revealed about the reality of these children's lives. Kath's story is about her journey to discover who she really is and we, the readers, are treated to those revelations as they came to her and her friends. From the opening pages, it is clear that life at the Hailsham boarding school is not typical of English boarding schools. Ishiguro presents the reader with a picture of life that makes little sense, but because Kath is telling the story and she, as a child, was unaware that her life was different from other children, we are given no answers to the inevitable questions that arise. It is only as Kath's own curiosity is aroused that we are allowed to find some answers. At the same time, the full extent of the mystery is only slowly revealed as Kath herself begins to understand that Hailsham and its students are rather special. Just as it seems that the mystery has been unraveled, so another question is raised and goes unanswered, creating a truly compelling story. Ishiguro demonstrates his mastery of the art of writing. He has created a truly believable person in Kath and through her he is able to present a story of mystery and revelation almost without the reader being aware of the literary tricks to which they are subject. Read More...

The penultimate nominee is The Accidental by Ali Smith. Born in Inverness in 1962, Ali Smith won the Saltire Society Scottish First Book of the Year Award and a Scottish Arts Council Award for her first book, Free Love and Other Stories. Her first novel, Like, was published to critical acclaim in 1997. Her second novel, Hotel World (2001), won the Encore Award, a Scottish Arts Council Book Award and the inaugural Scottish Arts Council Book of the Year Award. It was also shortlisted for both the Orange Prize for Fiction and the Booker Prize for Fiction. For a list of reviews of The Accidental Click Here

The final nominee is On Beauty by Zadie Smith. The youngest of the Booker Nominees for 2005 Zadie Smith was born in 1975 in North London. Her acclaimed first novel, White Teeth (2000) won a number of awards and prizes, including the Guardian First Book Award, the Whitbread First Novel Award, and the Commonwealth Writers Prize. On Beauty, is a rollicking academic satire. Campus satire doesn't suggest Big Book, but Smith has managed to make it so. Like her much-praised first novel, White Teeth, this book squeezes a great deal of contemporary life between two covers. It is packed with tangents on the iPod, the seepage of pornography into sex life, the fashion imperatives of hip-hop and life in President Bush's America. Read More...

Kuazo Ishiguro leads the vote count of the Peoples prize, followed by Julius Barnes. Whether the judges feel the same and award Ishiguro with his second Booker or is it going to be someone else? For more on the 37th Booker Prize visit the official website here.