Re­ward­ing cre­ative pi­o­neers

> The Man Booker Prize judges are go­ing out­side the box by se­lect­ing un­con­ven­tional new tal­ents for this year’s short­list

The Sun (Malaysia) - - THE RIGHT READ -

JUDGES for the Man Booker Prize, the top Bri­tish lit­er­ary award, spurned big­name nov­el­ists in favour of ex­per­i­men­tal new tal­ents as they re­cently an­nounced their short­list. None of the six writ­ers who made the cut for the cov­eted prize for fic­tion is well known out­side lit­er­ary cir­cles.

The judges told a press con­fer­ence they wanted to re­ward cre­ative pi­o­neers.

“Be­ing in­no­va­tive, be­ing bold, coura­geous, a will­ing­ness to take risks, be­ing novel within the novel – that’s what re­ally ex­cited us be­cause it shows that the art form isn’t be­ing nos­tal­gic,” said Amanda Fore­man, chair of the judges.

Book­mak­ers Lad­brokes have made Graeme Macrae Bur­net favourite to win with His Bloody Project at odds of 5/2.

The novel tells the story of a mem­oir writ­ten in prison in 1869 by a triple mur­derer. The man­u­script is dis­cov­ered by one of his de­scen­dants, who shares the au­thor’s name. He then ed­its and pub­lishes the work him­self.

Other short­listed nov­els in­clude US au­thor Paul Beatty’s The Sell­out, a satir­i­cal novel set in a fic­tional Los An­ge­les neigh­bour­hood which ex­plores racial equal­ity and the civil rights move­ment.

One of the judges, ac­tress Olivia Wil­liams, de­scribed The Sell­out as “shock­ing and un­ex­pect­edly funny” and com­pared it to the works of 18th cen­tury satirist Jonathan Swift, au­thor of Gul­liver’s Trav­els.

An­other was All That Man Is by Canadian-Bri­tish au­thor David Sza­lay, which judge Jon Day said was about “mas­culin­ity and the state of con­tem­po­rary Europe – a post-Brexit novel for our times”.

It traces nine mo­ments in the lives of dif­fer­ent men across the con­ti­nent – from a Prague sub­urb to a Bel­gian mo­tor­way – to make wider points about iden­tity.

South African-born Bri­ton Deb­o­rah Levy is the only au­thor pre­vi­ously short­listed for the prize.

She made the cut for Swim­ming Home in 2012 but this year is in­cluded for Hot Milk, de­scribed by its pub­lish­ers as “a study in paral­y­sis” set in a Span­ish fish­ing vil­lage.

Fore­man said it was about “the toxic waste pro­duced by dam­ag­ing par­ents and dam­aged chil­dren”.

Com­plet­ing the short­list are Eileen by US au­thor Ottessa Mosh­fegh, and Do Not Say We Have Noth­ing by Canada’s Madeleine Thein.

First-time au­thor Mosh­fegh, 35, has writ­ten a por­trait of a dis­turbed young woman trapped be­tween car­ing for her al­co­holic fa­ther in a squalid house and her job as a sec­re­tary at a boys’ prison.

Do Not Say We Have Noth­ing is based around a world of clas­si­cal mu­sic and si­lence in revo­lu­tion­ary China.

The judges dis­missed sugges­tions that many of the books were gru­elling and their char­ac­ters un­sym­pa­thetic.

“Hot Milk had me laugh­ing out loud,” said Wil­liams. “I was banned from read­ing The Sell­out in bed by my hus­band be­cause I kept shak­ing the bed, I was laugh­ing so much.”

The Man Booker car­ries a cash prize of US$52,500 (RM215,250), but its higher re­ward lies in pres­tige which typ­i­cally gen­er­ates huge sales. The win­ner will be an­nounced in Lon­don on Oct 25. – AFP

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