This year’s Man Booker prize went to The Sellout by Paul Beatty. Beatty’s novel also won the NBCC fiction prize earlier this year and he is the first American author to win the Man Booker prize since US authors became eligible in 2014.
The 2016 Chair of judges, Amanda Foreman, commented that: ‘The Sellout is a novel for our times. A tirelessly inventive modern satire, its humour disguises a radical seriousness. Paul Beatty slays sacred cows with abandon and takes aim at racial and political taboos with wit, verve and a snarl.’ You can read more about the author, novel, and prize here.
“Paul Beatty’s The Sellout showcases a comic genius at the top of his game. A biting satire about a young man’s isolated upbringing and the race trial that sends him to the Supreme Court, it challenges the sacred tenets of the United States Constitution, urban life, the civil rights movement, the father-son relationship, and the holy grail of racial equality—the black Chinese restaurant. Born in the “agrarian ghetto” of Dickens—on the southern outskirts of Los Angeles—the narrator of The Sellout resigns himself to the fate of lower-middle-class Californians: “I’d die in the same bedroom I’d grown up in, looking up at the cracks in the stucco ceiling that’ve been there since ’68 quake.” Raised by a single father, a controversial sociologist, he spent his childhood as the subject in racially charged psychological studies. He is led to believe that his father’s pioneering work will result in a memoir that will solve his family’s financial woes, but when his father is killed in a police shoot-out, he realizes there never was a memoir. All that’s left is the bill for a drive-thru funeral. Fueled by this deceit and the general disrepair of his hometown, the narrator sets out to right another wrong: Dickens has literally been removed from the map to save California from further embarrassment. Enlisting the help of the town’s most famous resident—the last surviving Little Rascal, Hominy Jenkins—he initiates the most outrageous action conceivable: reinstating slavery and segregating the local high school, which lands him in the Supreme Court.“ (GoodReads)
If you missed it you can have a look at the 2016 Man Booker shortlist for further reading inspiration.
A Brief History of Seven Killings by Marlon James
Michael Wood, the Chair of judges, commented:
‘This book is startling in its range of voices and registers, running from the patois of the street posse to The Book of Revelation. It is a representation of political times and places, from the CIA intervention in Jamaica to the early years of crack gangs in New York and Miami. It is a crime novel that moves beyond the world of crime and takes us deep into a recent history we know far too little about. It moves at a terrific pace and will come to be seen as a classic of our times.’ (Man Booker Press Release)
“On 3 December 1976, just weeks before the general election and two days before Bob Marley was to play the Smile Jamaica Concert to ease political tensions, seven gunmen from West Kingston stormed his house with machine guns blazing. Marley survived and went on to perform at the free concert, but the next day he left the country, and didn’t return for two years. Not a lot was recorded about the fate of the seven gunmen, but much has been said, whispered and sung about in the streets of West Kingston, with information surfacing at odd times, only to sink into rumour and misinformation. Inspired by this near-mythic event, A Brief History of Seven Killings takes the form of an imagined oral biography, told by ghosts, witnesses, killers, members of parliament, drug dealers, conmen, beauty queens, FBI and CIA agents, reporters, journalists, and even Keith Richards’ drug dealer. Marlon James’s bold undertaking traverses strange landscapes and shady characters, as motivations are examined – and questions asked – in this compelling novel of monumental scope and ambition.” (GoodReads)
The 2014 Man Booker Prize went to Tasmanian born Richard Flanagan for The Narrow Road to the Deep North.
What the judges had to say:
AC Grayling comments: ‘The two great themes from the origin of literature are love and war: this is a magnificent novel of love and war. Written in prose of extraordinary elegance and force, it bridges East and West, past and present, with a story of guilt and heroism.
‘This is the book that Richard Flanagan was born to write.’
The Narrow Road to the Deep North is a love story unfolding over half a century between a doctor and his uncle’s wife.
Taking its title from one of the most famous books in Japanese literature, written by the great haiku poet Basho, Flanagan’s novel has as its heart one of the most infamous episodes of Japanese history, the construction of the Thailand-Burma Death Railway in World War II.
In the despair of a Japanese POW camp on the Death Railway, surgeon Dorrigo Evans is haunted by his love affair with his uncle’s young wife two years earlier. Struggling to save the men under his command from starvation, from cholera, from beatings, he receives a letter that will change his life forever.
Read the full press release
The winner of this year’s Man Booker Prize is The Luminaries by Eleanor Catton.
A bit about the novel from the Man Booker site:
“The Luminaries, set in 1866 during the New Zealand gold rush, contains a group of 12 men gathered for a meeting in a hotel and a traveller who stumbles into their midst; the story involves a missing rich man, a dead hermit, a huge sum in gold, and a beaten-up whore. There are sex and seances, opium and lawsuits in the mystery too. The multiple voices take turns to tell their own stories and gradually what happened in the small town of Hokitika on New Zealand’s South Island is revealed. “
What the judges had to say:
“The chair of judges Robert Macfarlane described the book as a “dazzling work, luminous, vast”. It is, he said, “a book you sometimes feel lost in, fearing it to be ‘a big baggy monster’, but it turns out to be as tightly structured as an orrery”. Each of its 12 chapters halves in length which gives the narrative a sense of acceleration. It is not, however, an extended exercise in literary form. Macfarlane and his fellow judges were impressed by Catton’s technique but it was her “extraordinarily gripping” narrative that enthralled them. “We read it three times and each time we dug into it the yields were extraordinary, its dividends astronomical.” The Luminaries is, said Macfarlane, a novel with heart. “The characters are in New Zealand to make and to gain – the one thing that disrupts them is love.” (read more from the judges)
To read more about The Luminaries and to see what the reading community thinks of this book head on over to GoodReads.
From the author that brought us the 2009 Man Booker Prize winning Wolf Hall comes the sequel to the Thomas Cromwell featured story, Bringing Up the Bodies. This sequel, Bringing Up the Bodies, has won the 2012 prize making Hilary Mantel the 3rd author to have won the Man Booker Prize twice. She is, however, the first author to have won a second time with a sequel and the first to win with such little time between wins.
What’s Bringing Up the Bodies about? Goodreads provides us with the low down.
Though he battled for seven years to marry her, Henry is disenchanted with Anne Boleyn. She has failed to give him a son and her sharp intelligence and audacious will alienate his old friends and the noble families of England. When the discarded Katherine dies in exile from the court, Anne stands starkly exposed, the focus of gossip and malice.
At a word from Henry, Thomas Cromwell is ready to bring her down. Over three terrifying weeks, Anne is ensnared in a web of conspiracy, while the demure Jane Seymour stands waiting her turn for the poisoned wedding ring. But Anne and her powerful family will not yield without a ferocious struggle. Hilary Mantel’s Bring Up the Bodies follows the dramatic trial of the queen and her suitors for adultery and treason. To defeat the Boleyns, Cromwell must ally with his natural enemies, the papist aristocracy. What price will he pay for Anne’s head?
This second installation of the Wolf Hall series by Hilary Mantel is sure to please historical fiction fans and has been described by readers as even better than the first novel with many Goodreads members awarding Bringing Up the Bodies 5 star reviews.
The 2010 Man Booker Award ceremony was held last night at London’s Guildhall and it was Howard Jacobson who won the the Booker prize for his novel The Finkler Question beating out favourite Tom McCarthy.
Jacobson has been longlisted for the Booker prize twice before. Once for his work Who’s Sorry Now in 2002 and then for Kalooki Nights in 2006 but he has never made it onto the shortlist before.
What are people saying about Howard Jacobson’s The Finkler Question:
The Finkler Question is a novel about love, loss and male friendship, and explores what it means to be Jewish today.
Said to have ‘some of the wittiest, most poignant and sharply intelligent comic prose in the English language’, The Finkler Question has been described as ‘wonderful’ and ‘richly satisfying’ and as a novel of ‘full of wit, warmth, intelligence, human feeling and understanding’.
It was Sir Andrew Motion, Chair of the Judges, who made the announcement of Jacobson’s win and commented on behalf of the judges that:
‘The Finkler Question is a marvellous book: very funny, of course, but also very clever, very sad and very subtle. It is all that it seems to be and much more than it seems to be. A completely worthy winner of this great prize.’
Man Booker Prize press release: http://www.themanbookerprize.com/news/stories/1459