“Being a judge for the Man Booker prize has at times felt like being part of a team of archaeologists excavating some vast buried city. Once the dust has settled – after nine months of reading – you stand back to survey your labours and realise all that’s left is a small pile of gleaming fragments. I hadn’t expected the process to be quite so emotionally exhausting. Nor had I thought it would be quite so exhilarating.” In case you’re curious, a Man Booker Prize arbiter offers up his reflections on the judging process. See also: the shortlist itself, which has surprised many readers!
The Walter Scott prize did an analysis of prize submissions since its eight years of existence-with 650 novels submitted-and found that “38% of its submissions were set in the 20th century, while 19% were set in the Victorian era, between 1837 and 1901.” They also found many of the submissions focus on World Wars II and II and that the number of women historical fiction writers submitting their work has gone up.”The [Walter Scott] Prize celebrates quality, innovation and longevity of writing in the English language, and is open to books first published in the previous year in the UK, Ireland or the Commonwealth,” the breakdown is fascinating.
Even though the new Franzen doesn’t drop for another week, for many readers, today is the biggest book release day of the summer thanks to the publication of Mockingjay, the third installment of Suzanne Collins’ blockbuster Hunger Games trilogy. For those less inclined toward young adult fare, Kevin Guilfoile’s new novel The Thousand is now out, as is The Cross of Redemption, the “uncollected writings” of James Baldwin.
“[P]ublishing is a behemoth that is trudging along slowly in the direction of progress. But it still has a long way to go.” GQ editor and Year-in-Reading alum Kevin Nguyen gets the interview treatment from Poets & Writers (and gives a few shout-outs to us while he’s at it!). Among the books he’s read in the last year that stood out: “White Tears by Hari Kunzru by a mile.”