Man Booker Prize can sky­rocket writer’s ca­reer

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - FRONT PAGE -

“The im­pact is down­right seis­mic. It does change your sta­tus as a writer and the money is fan­tas­tic,” said Mar­lon James, who won in 2015 with A Brief His­tory of Seven Killings.

“It does have an im­mense im­pact on sales. It made the top five of the New York Times best-seller list, which I don’t think it would have be­fore.”

The five judges, who read all the sub­mis­sions once and the long- and short­listed en­tries sev­eral times, are look­ing for the year’s best novel writ­ten in English and pub­lished in Bri­tain.

This year’s short­list in­cludes works by three Bri­tons, two Amer­i­cans and a Cana­dian and the field is still wide open.

“We pick the win­ner on the same day that it’s an­nounced,” said judge Jon Day, a lec­turer in English at King’s Col­lege, Lon­don. “It is go­ing to be a very long and dif­fi­cult de­ci­sion.”

Af­ter read­ing a book a day for six months in what Day likened to a “posh book club”, the judges cut the pile down to a longlist of 13 then a short­list of six. This year’s six are: The Sell­out by Paul Beatty, Hot Milk by Deb­o­rah Levy, His Bloody Project by Scot Graeme Macrae Bur­net, Eileen by Ottessa Mosh­fegh, All That Man Is by David Sza­lay and Do Not Say We Have Noth­ing by Madeleine Thien.

“The books on our short­list are united in their in­ter­est in the world as it is to­day. Even those nov­els set in the past seem to speak to our mo­ment in all sorts of in­ter­est­ing ways,” Day said.

There is no con­sen­sus among book­mak­ers on who will win, but yes­ter­day com­par­i­son site Oddschecker put Thien’s Do Not Say We Have Noth­ing, an epic story of China from the com­mu­nist rev­o­lu­tion to the Tianan­men Square protests, ahead of Levy’s Hot Milk, a tale of iden­tity and sex­u­al­ity seen through the eyes of a young woman ac­com­pa­ny­ing her mother seek­ing treat­ment in a Span­ish clinic.

So has win­ning the prize raised ex­pec­ta­tions of James, as he works on his fol­low-up to Seven Killings?

“It can be a game-changer in your life as an au­thor if you want it to,” he said. “You can some­times get con­sumed by ex­pec­ta­tions.

“But usu­ally when I go back to writ­ing I’m in the same room as when I wrote the last one so I don’t think of that, es­pe­cially as you won’t take risks if you do.” – Reuters

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