Saturday, September 22, 2007

Man Booker Prize Contenders 2007.

A Review By MyDen
Book lovers around the world should now be eagerly awaiting the outcome of this year's winner of the Man Booker Prize. The Booker Prize, now known as Man Booker Prize since it's sponsorship by investment company Man Group in 2002, is a prestigious literary award started in 1969. It is awarded to the best novel of the year by a citizen of the Commonwealth or the Republic of Ireland and is judged by a five-person panel of critics, writers and academics.

With a prize pot of $50,000 pounds, there are a total of six authors and their shortlisted books vying for the prestigious prize this year, with Ian McEwan, the winner in 1998 for his novel Amsterdam, again in the running. If McEwan wins again in Oct 16, he will be only the third person in the prize's history to have won more than once. Australian author, J.M. Coetzee was the first to win on two occasions, in 1983 and 1999, while Peter Carey, another Australian author, won in 1988 and 2001.

Unlike the uproar last year when the shortlist comprised largely of unknown authors (Indian writer Kiran Desai won for The Inheritance of Loss), this year's list, all first time nominees except for McEwan, are reasonably well known in literary circles.

Besides international glory, winning the prize usually translates into increase book sales worldwide. After her win last year, Desai's The Inheritance of Loss rocketed into the bestsellers list in Singapore and remained there for 23 weeks. All the six shortlisted books except for Nicola Barker's Darkmans, are available here together with short reviews, author bios and just for the fun of it, the odds at Ladbrokes of the six authors.

On Chesil Beach by Ian McEwan.
Set in 1962, the book delves into the psyches of a young English couple to explain their disastrous wedding night.
About Ian McEwan.
Born in 1948 in Aldershot, Hampshire, McEwan followed his army officer father to postings in East Asia, Germany and North Africa. A graduate of the University of Sussex, he lives in Oxford. This is his 10th novel and fifth Booker prize nomination.
Stranger than fiction.
He discovered a long-lost elder brother, a bricklayer, in 2002, who had been given up for adoption during World War II, the result of an extra-marital affair between his parents when his mother was married to someone else at that time.
Ladbrokes Odds.
His odds of 5/2 are second only to Lloyd Jones but the general consensus in literary circles is that the slim novel is not one of his most profound works. Then again, his Booker prize winning Amsterdam was also considered one of his lesser novels.

The Reluctant Fundamentalist by Mohsin Hamid.
The story of an American-educated Pakistani man who became disillusioned with the United States after Sept 11 and his doomed relationship with an American girl.
About Mohsin Hamid.
Born in 1971 in Lahore, Pakistan and a graduate of Harvard Law School and Princeton University, Hamid worked as a management consultant in New York before moving to London in 2001. This is his second novel and his debut work, Moth Smoke, won a Betty Trask Award in 2001. The award is given to first-time writers from the Commonwealth under the age of 35. He is also the youngest among the shortlisted authors.
Stranger than fiction.
Given the pivotal date in the novel, he actually started writing The Reluctant Fundamentalist in 2000, well before the cataclysmic Sept 11 event and had already relocated to London when the World Trade Center was attacked.
Ladbrokes Odds. This elegant novel was much talked about when first published but with odds of 6/1, Hamid is currently, not one of the front runners.

The Gathering by Anne Enright.
An Irish tale about a middle-aged woman who discovers the seeds of her alcoholic brother's doom, who committed suicide by drowning, in the history of her sprawling family.
About Anne Enright.
Born in Dublin in 1962, the former television producer and director studied English at Trinity College in Dublin and creative writing at the University of East Anglia. The Gathering is her fourth novel and her second book in 2000, What Are You Like?, was shortlisted for the Whitbread Novel Award and won the Encore Award. Her collection of short stories, The Portable Virgin in 1991, also won the Rooney prize for Irish Literature.
Stranger than fiction.
She has written extensively about the discomforts of breast-feeding and that "amniotic fluids" smells like tea with regards to her being pregnant with and raising her two young children.
Ladbrokes odds.
Though critics like the book's blend of cynicism and sympathy, there are some who dislike it for it's cliches about Irish families. It is currently a dark horse with odds of 9/1.

Mister Pip by Lloyd Jones.
Set in the 1990s', the story is about the only white man on the South Pacific island of Bougainville and his attempts to re-open the school in a small village to teach the children Charles Dickens' Great Expectations against a backdrop of the ongoing civil war to secede from Papua New Guinea.
About Lloyd Jones.
The former journalist was born in Wellington, New Zealand in 1955, where he still lives. He is a graduate of Victoria University. This is his seven novel and it has already clinched the Commonwealth Writers' Overall Prize for Best Book. His fifth book, The Book of Fame, won the Deutz Medal for Fiction in the 2001 Montana New Zealand Book Awards and the Tasmania Pacific Fiction Prize in 2003.
Stranger than fiction.
As a journalist, Jones visited the island of Bougainville and even stayed with Sam Kauona, the military leader of the Bougainville Revolutionary Army.
Ladbrokes odds.
With odds of 2/1, Jones is currently the front runner for the award. However, being the bookies' favorite does not guarantee the prize and the book has been criticised for its unconvincing ending.

Animal's People by Indra Sinha.
About a community quest for justice, the novel is set in the fictional Indian city of Khaufpur, which was ravaged by a leak from an American chemical factory. The narrator is Animal, a teenager who walks on all fours due to his chemically damaged spine.
About Indra Sinha.
Born in Mumbai, India, in 1950, Sinha studied English at Cambridge University before working as an advertising copywriter. Now a full-time author, he lives in France. Although he is the least well known among the nominees, his debut novel, The Death Of Mr. Love in 2002, garnered critical acclaim. Animal's People is his second book.
Stranger than fiction.
An award-winning star copywriter at top agency Collett Dickenson Pearce, he has used his design savy to set up a website about the fictional city of Khaufpur at
Ladbrokes odds.
Though an outsider with 9/1 odds, his epic novel has all the the ingredients - globalisation, politics, culture clashes and an idiosyncratic narrator - to pull him to the head of the pack.

Darkmans by Nicola Barker (Image not available).
A complex narrative about an estranged father and son dwelling in Kent, England and their shenanigans while being occasionally possessed by the spirit of John Scogin, one of King Edward IV's court jesters.
About Nicola Barker.
Born in 1966 in Ely, Cambridgeshire and raised in South Africa, she return to Britain when she was 14. She studied English and philosophy at Cambridge University and lives in London. Her third book, Wide Open in 1998, won the International Impac Dubin Literary Award. This is her seventh novel.
Stranger than fiction.
She is a self-confessed addict of of popular reality series Big Brother and property programme, A Place In The Sun.
Ladbrokes odds.
Her current odds are 4/1. While Darkmans has been praised for it's ambitious scope, it might be a little to offbeat to win a mainstream prize.

*Related post :
- Winner Of The Man Booker Prize 2007