So Hilary Mantel is not going to make history by winning the Booker Prize three times.
I’m a bit disappointed – I thought all three novels about Thomas Cromwell: Wolf Hall, Bring Up the Bodies and The Mirror & the Light, were absorbing, often terrifying and utterly brilliant.
Not even to get on to the shortlist for the 2020 Booker! I think she wuz robbed.
But thriller writer Lee Child, who was on the panel of judges, was quoted in The Guardian saying of The Mirror & the Light: “It is an absolutely wonderful novel, there’s no question about it. It’s a trilogy which will live forever. But as good as it was, there were some books which were better.”
Another two international novelists whose books failed to make the cut were Anne Tyler with Redhead by the Side of the Road, and Colum McCann for Apeirogon.
But closer to home, acclaimed Zimbabwean writer and activist Tsitsi Dangarembga is in with a chance to win the prize for her for This Mournable Body. This is the third in a trilogy which includes Nervous Conditions (1988), named by the BBC as one of the 100 books that shaped the world, and The Book of Not, published in 2006. Continue reading
I have to write 200 words of description for my assignment for my writing course this week.
“Imagine that sunset that stunned you or catching a wave on an early morning surf or a tense hang-gliding moment, or an afternoon at a waterhole in the bush …” instructs Mike Nicol, top SA crime writer, biographer and memoir-writer who is running the course.
“Or something completely different: describe entering a foreign city for the first time; or moving into a new home; arriving at a holiday destination.”
In 200 words? It’s not easy. But it’s not meant to be.
In fact I have an MA in creative writing, and my thesis scored good marks, so why am I doing Mike’s course on Writing Reality – essentially narrative non-fiction writing?
Because as a friend briskly pointed out, a thesis is not a book. So I’ve been hoping to learn some skills, how to round out what I’ve written, how to make it live and breathe and connect to the reader. Continue reading
Can Hilary Mantel make history and be the first writer to win the Booker Prize for a third time?
The longlist of 13 novels in English was announced this week.
The third in Mantel’s riveting trilogy about Henry VIII’s chancellor Thomas Cromwell, The Mirror and the Light, follows Wolf Hall, which won the prize in 2009, and Bring Up the Bodies, which won in 2012.
The Mirror and the Light takes the saga from the time of Anne Boleyn’s execution in 1536 to Cromwell’s own just four years later.
Only a handful of writers have won the Booker twice, including South African JM Coetzee, Margaret Atwood and Peter Carey.
Of the 13 titles on the list, more than half are debut novels, but another favourite to make the cut is the American writer Anne Tyler with her Redhead by the Side of the Road.
The final book in another trilogy, by the Zimbabwean writer Tsitsi Dangarembga, This Mournable Body, also made the longlist. The two previous novels are Nervous Conditions (1988), named by the BBC as one of the 100 books that shaped the world, and The Book of Not, published in 2006.
The Guardian reports: “Award-winning Zimbabwean author Tsitsi Dangarembga is in the running for This Mournable Body, a sequel to her 1988 novel Nervous Conditions, named by the BBC as one of the 100 books that shaped the world. Judges said This Mournable Body ‘drew an immediate reaction like a sharp intake of breath from all of us on the panel’.”
Margaret Busby, chair of the 2020 panel of judges, said of the longlist: “Each of these books carries an impact that has earned it a place on the longlist, deserving of wide readership. There are voices from minorities often unheard, stories that are fresh, bold and absorbing.
“The best fiction enables the reader to relate to other people’s lives; sharing experiences that we could not ourselves have imagined is as powerful as being able to identify with characters.
“As judges we connected with these writers’ well-crafted prose, the mastery of detail, the arresting sentence, the credibility of the narrative arc, the ability to use to the full, the resources of storytelling. Unplanned, our final selection encompasses both seasoned favourites and debut talents – a truly satisfying outcome.”
The full list is:
- The New Wilderness by Diane Cook (Oneworld Publications)
- This Mournable Body by Tsitsi Dangarembga (Faber & Faber)
- Burnt Sugar by Avni Doshi (Hamish Hamilton, Penguin Random House)
- Who They Was by Gabriel Krauze (4th Estate, HarperCollins)
- The Mirror & The Light by Hilary Mantel (4th Estate, HarperCollins)
- Apeirogon by Colum McCan (Bloomsbury Publishing)
- The Shadow King by Maaza Mengiste (Canongate Books)
- Such a Fun Age by Kiley Reid (Bloomsbury Circus, Bloomsbury Publishing)
- Real Life by Brandon Taylor (Originals, Daunt Books Publishing)
- Redhead by The Side of The Road by Anne Tyler (Chatto & Windus, Vintage)
- Shuggie Bain by Douglas Stuart (Picador, Pan Macmillan)
- Love and Other Thought Experiments by Sophie Ward (Corsair, Little, Brown)
- How Much of These Hills is Gold by C Pam Zhang (Virago, Little, Brown)
The shortlist of six books will be announced on September 15, and each author will receive £2 500 (about R46 000). The 2020 winner will be announced in November and wins £50 000 (just over R1million.
- On Friday (July 31) British writer and broadcaster Joe Haddow will host a podcast discussion of the longlist with some of the judges. It will be available on Spotify, iTunes, SoundCloud, Entale, Deezerand Stitcher.
When you read detective thrillers by overseas writers you can enjoy them, knowing your chances of bumping into the baddies roaming London or Los Angeles are pretty small.
Mike Nicol’s books are different. The Clovelly-based writer creates recognisable Capetonian baddies of the type you would not want to irritate on the M5 on a dark night.
Now Nicol, author of successful and chilling crime novels, biographies – including one of Nelson Mandela – and memoirs, is offering budding writers who want to end the tedium of the lockdown an opportunity to write a best-selling novel.
“The lockdown provides at least one of the critical elements of writing a novel – and that is the time to write,” says Nicol. Continue reading
You can go a long way in 97 years, and Elsa Joubert did.
Born in Paarl in 1922, Joubert grew up in an orthodox Afrikaner family, and at first embraced their beliefs. In fact in her early years she felt her father was not sufficiently committed to the Afrikaner cause.
In 1938, when Afrikaners celebrated the centenary of the Great Trek, 16-year-old Elsa was in the crowd when the Cape Town wagon, on its way from the Mother City to Pretoria, passed through Paarl. The oxen were unhitched for the night and Joubert was one of the proud young Afrikaners who placed the yokes over their shoulders and pulled the wagon to the showgrounds. Later she wrote in her diary: “I shall never forget this day.” Continue reading
The organisers of the Jewish Literary Festival, due to take place in Hatfield Street on Sunday, have postponed the event in the light of Covid-19.
Spokeswoman Beryl Eichenberger said they did not yet have a new date, but the festival would place at some stage. People who had bought tickets should hold on to them as they would remain valid.
“We have decided to be proactive and postpone the festival. This regrettable but responsible action is to limit transmission of COVID-19.
Our team has been working for the past 18 months and so we are deeply disappointed at having to make this call but our responsibility is to act in the best interests of our literature-loving community.”
TERRY Kurgan, whose moving book Everyone is Present, was reviewed on this website last week, is one of the speakers at the third Jewish Literacy Festival in Cape Town on Sunday March 15.
Kurgan’s book, about her family’s flight from Poland one day ahead of the Nazis, is based on her grandfather’s diary of their long and often desperate journey and a slim photo album with pictures of what was a happy middle-class life until they turned into refugees literally overnight.
Other top writers taking part include Joanne Fedler, Diane Awerbuck, Jonny Steinberg and Joanne Jowell Harding.
Beryl Eichenberg writes: “Perhaps listening to Judge Dennis Davis debate with Pierre de Vos interests you or maybe getting a sneak preview into the new novels of Gail Schimmel, Hedi Lampert and Lynn Joffe?
“If you love the heady 60s and Leonard Cohen, there’s a session for you or, if sport is your bag, then cricket legend Ali Bacher in conversation with David Williams will tick your box.
“Then again murder and mayhem may be your choice, so Nechama Brodie, Tanya Farber and Annika Larsen will be on your list.
“You don’t have to be Jewish to enjoy this gathering, just have a love of reading and conversation.”
Books will be on sale at the festival through The Book Lounge.
The festival also boasts a young adult programme in partnership with Herzlia Middle and High schools. Children from four to 11 can enjoy a full day programme which includes stories, puppets, music and book writing.
The festival takes place on March 15 from 9am to 5pm at the Gardens Community Centre in Cape Town in Hatfield Street, home to the Jacob Gitlin Library, SA Jewish Museum and Cape Town Holocaust and Genocide Centre who partner the event.
Visit www.jewishliteraryfestival.co.za to view the programme of over 40 sessions and be spoilt for choice.
Tickets are R380 for adults, R115 for teens and R100 for under-12s.
Devotees of The Handmaid’s Tale, both the novel by Canadian writer Margaret Atwood and the prize-winning TV series, will be delighted to know that a sequel, The Testaments, is on the 2019 Booker Prize for Fiction’s longlist of 13 books announced today.
It is set 15 years after the end of The Handmaid’s Tale, but any summary of the story is forbidden until the novel comes out on September 10. The chair of the judges’panel, Hay festival director Peter Florence, was prepared – or allowed – to say only: “Spoiler discretion and a ferocious non-disclosure agreement prevent any description of who, how, why and even where. So this: it’s terrifying and exhilarating.”
This Atwood’s sixth nomination, and if she wins, it will be her second award, after The Blind Assassin in 2000.
Another writer in line for a second award is Salman Rushdie for Quichotte, a novel inspired by Cervantes’s Don Quixote, about an ageing salesman who falls in love with a TV star and drives across the United States to claim her. The judges described it as a “picaresque tour de force of contemporary America”. Continue reading