Wednesday, May 13, 2009

The Winning Books

I know it’s almost too late but those who can still make it, do try and get to the V & A for this fascinating exhibition. The prestigious Booker and Man Booker Prize celebrates the 40th anniversary with a display at London’s Victoria and Albert Musuem and it ends on 17 May!

A short jaunt from South Kensington Tube Station, its also just a ten minutes walk from Harrods, Knightsbridge and Hyde Park [at least according to the musuem’s website].
So, a spot of shopping, an enriching trip to the museum followed by perhaps a stop for some tea afterwards. Can’t think of a better way to spend the day.

If you’re a dedicated biblophile like me, you’ll be delighted to examine the full collection of winning and shortlisted books, covet the signed limited first editions, and see the original Booker trophy created by artist Jan Pienkowski.

{The most recent winner, Aravind Adiga was a former correspondent for TIME magazine.
Raised partly in Australia, he was educated at Columbia and Oxford and now lives in Mumbai, India where his book is set.}

The first prize was awarded in 1969 to promote the finest in fiction and is now considered to be the most talked about and influential literary prize in the world. There are more than a few interesting facts revealed about the history of The Booker, how the judges are selected and of course how the winners are chosen.

{Kiran Desai took the prize in 2006. She, like Aravind was also born in India, then studied at Columbia University and England.
Her mother Anita Desai has been shortlisted for the Booker prize three times.}
For those who might have wondered about the change from the original Booker to the Man Booker Prize in later years, its simple really- merely a change in sponsor. The Man Group Plc was announced as the new sponsor in 2002.

More importantly- a point to note for those aspiring to literary greatness, to be eligible for the award, you have to be a citizen of the Commonwealth or the Republic of Ireland. Your novel must be full-lengthed, it must be an original work in English and must not be self-published. Should you win, you’ll receive a 50, 000 pound cash prize, a dramatic increase in worldwide readership, soaring booksales and perhaps a film contract.

Achieving a lifelong dream - priceless.

{Ian McEwan won in 1998 for his novel Amsterdam. Revolving around a gorgeous, good-time girl named Molly Lane and her many lovers- men who hold important positions in respected institutions, they meet at her funeral and the story's various complications start to unfold.
He's probably better known for books such as Enduring Love and Atonement, both of which were made into movies.

Did you know Atonement was shortlisted for the booker prize in 2001?
Almost everyone has seen or heard about the iconic green dress worn by Kiera Knightly in the blockbuster film version. Much fewer I reckon are familiar with the book's contents.}

The question that journalists ask every Man Booker prize winner is “What are you planning to spend your money on?” Answers expectedly range from the serious to the chuckle-inducing.
A.S. Byatt, winner in 1990 said with a flourish that she now had the money needed to build her longed-for swimming pool in Provence.

There have been joint winners twice. Once in 1974 and again in 1992 when Michael Ondaatje’s The English Patient tied with Barry Unsworth’s Sacred Hunger. From 1993 onwards, new rules stipulated that there could only be one eventual winner each year.
The English patient was eventually made into the academy award winning film in 1996. I have to confess, I'm one of the few remaining people who have not yet seen the movie even though its pretty much thought of as an all time classic now.

Lastly, this year’s winner will be announced on 6 Ocotber 2009.
This amused me greatly. Ocotber indeed. Hmm spelling errors in the announcement from the Man Booker prize, I don’t know what to make of that…

So schedule a visit if its possible, if not head to a bookstore and add more titles to your list of must-reads. I think I've made it one of my fresh goals to plow through the entire collection!
A possibly crazy notion but incredibly fun. Now to get reading!

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