Shelf Life Book news, reviews, trends, and talk

Tag: Man Booker Prize (1-10 of 22)

Australian author Richard Flanagan wins the Man Booker Prize

Australian author Richard Flanagan has won the Man Booker Prize for The Narrow Road to the Deep North—plus the £50,000 (about $80,000) prize and the great prestige that come with it.

Flanagan, born in Tasmania and living in Australia, is the third Aussie to win the award, which he received at a ceremony on Tuesday in London. The judges described his sixth book, published by Chatto & Windus, as “a harrowing account of the cost of war to all who are caught up in it.” Set in World War II, The Narrow Road tells the story of a surgeon in a Japanese POW camp along the Thailand-Burma Death Railway. The novel was partly inspired by Flanagan’s father’s experiences as a Japanese POW—he died at age 98 on the day his son finished the book.

“The two great themes from the origin of literature are love and war: this is a magnificent novel of love and war,” said chair of the judges A.C. Grayling. “Written in prose of extraordinary elegance and force, it bridges East and West, past and present, with a story of guilt and heroism.”

Flanagan’s win carries a special historical significance because this year marked the first time ever that the competition was open to writers from any country, as long as their work was published in English in the U.K. (Previously, only citizens of the U.K. Commonwealth, Ireland or Zimbabwe were eligible.) Brits still nabbed half of the spots on September’s shortlist, and British author Neel Mukherjee was the favorite to win for The Lives Of Others, set in 1960s India.

Flanagan is as surprised as anyone else by his win. “In Australia, the Man Booker is sometimes seen as something of a chicken raffle,” Flanagan said. “I just didn’t expect to end up the chicken.”



On the Books: Americans appear on Man Booker shortlist for first time


The shortlist of contenders for the United Kingdom’s prestigious Man Booker Prize, announced today, includes American authors Joshua Ferris and Karen Joy Fowler among the unprecedentedly multinational selection. The competition—which until this year was only open to citizens of the the U.K., U.K. Commonwealth, Ireland, and Zimbabwe—considered writers from any country, as long as they were published in English in the United Kingdom. Here is the list in full:

Joshua Ferris (U.S.), To Rise Again at a Decent Hour (Viking)
Richard Flanagan (Australian), The Narrow Road to the Deep North (Chatto & Windus)
Karen Joy Fowler (U.S.), We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves (Serpent’s Tail)
Howard Jacobson (British), J (Jonathan Cape)
Neel Mukherjee (British), The Lives of Others (Chatto & Windus)
Ali Smith (British), How to be Both (Hamish Hamilton)

Despite fears of British authors being shut out by American literary powerhouses, Brits still dominated the competition, nabbing three of the six spots on the shortlist. AC Grayling, chair of the judges, said the selection is “a strong, thought-provoking shortlist which we believe demonstrates the wonderful depth and range of contemporary fiction in English.” The winner of the $80,000 award will be announced in London on Oct. 14. [NPR]

Rolling Stones legend Keith Richards’ children’s book, Gus & Me: The Story of My Granddad and My First Guitar, hits shelves today. Published by Little, Brown and illustrated by Richards’ daughter Theodora, the book is about Richards’ childhood memories of jazz-musician grandfather Gus, who shared his love for music and London with a young Keith. [USA Today]

Publishers Weekly conducted an informal poll of more than 20 independent bookstores, finding that despite earlier predictions, most of the stores enjoyed a successful summer. Though overall book sales fell nearly 8 percent in the first half of 2014, PW‘s poll shows that many small booksellers saw a surge in sales over the last quarter. Storeowners attribute part of the increase to the Hachette-Amazon feud—Powell’s Books of Portland, Ore., for example, received 10,000 pre-orders for Edan Lepucki’s California after getting a mention on The Colbert Report.

On the Books: UK poll names 'Mockingbird' most influential book by a woman

A U.K. survey selected Harper Lee’s To Kill A Mockingbird as the book written by a woman that “most impacted, shaped or changed readers’ lives.” Shami Chakrabarti, chair of the 2015 judging panel of the Bailey’s Women’s Prize for Fiction, which organized the survey, named the book as her top choice as well. “With human rights under attack the world over, the enduring appeal of Harper Lee’s great tale gives hope that justice and equality might yet triumph over prejudice,” Chakrabarti said.

The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood and Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë came in second and third, respectively, followed by Harry Potter by J.K. Rowling (all seven books were counted as one entry) and Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë. [The Guardian]

Apple bought Booklamp, a company described as “Pandora for books.” Like Pandora does for music, Booklamp used to formulate a “genetic makeup” for a book and recommends books based on the genes of other books you’ve liked. For example, if you like the Harry Potter books, Booklamp would detect the percentage of the books that have to do with magic, the percentage that have to do with coming-of-age, etc., and suggest books with a similar makeup. It will also analyze books based on pacing and prose style. The “book genome project” part of the company was shut down in April, but maybe Apple will resurrect it. [PC Mag]

The Booker Prize longlist landed last week, but a few of the nominated titles aren’t available for sale yet. According to the Booker rules, “Each publisher of a title appearing on the longlist will be required to have no fewer than 1,000 copies of that title available in stock within 10 days of the announcement of the longlist.” This means booksellers don’t get to actually sell and make money from all the nominated books. [Melville House]

Abigail Deutsch investigates the the elusive author behind a couplet she’s found on signs in different parks: “Let no one say, and say it to your shame/That all was beauty here, until you came.” [The New Yorker]

NASA is developing an ebook publishing imprint, offering “titles that would be of interest to space enthusiasts, about aeronautics, technology, outer space research, and more.” [Melville House]

James Joyce’s Ulysses may become a virtual reality game. To quote the book, “I fear those big words, Stephen said, which make us so unhappy.” [USA Today]

On the Books: American authors land on Booker Prize longlist

Joshua Ferris, Karen Joy Fowler, Siri Hustvedt, and Richard Powers are the Americans who made this year’s Man Booker Prize longlist. For the first time, Britain’s most prestigious literary award is open to authors in the U.S., as long as the books are also published in Britain. The list is male-dominated: only three of its 13 writers are women. The toast of America’s literary establishment last year, Donna Tartt’s The Goldfinch, was snubbed. Last year, 28-year-old author Eleanor Catton won for her 800-page novel The Luminaries. A shortlist will be announced on September 9th, and the winner on October 14th. [The New York Times]

In Amazon news, vice president of Kindle Content Russ Grandinetti has asked authors to stop complaining about the company. A group of authors—including Lee Child, Stephen King, John Grisham, and James Patterson—are planning to publish a full-page ad in The New York Times explaining why they are siding against Amazon in the Amazon-Hachette dispute. Grandinetti asked the group to stop publication of the ad, and proposed a plan where Amazon to stock Hachette titles and give authors standard royalties on ebooks. While Amazon and Hachette continue to negotiate among themselves, the proceeds each company normally earns would go to a literacy charity. [Publishers Weekly] READ FULL STORY

On The Books: Let's hope you don't win a book prize

You better hope you haven’t been nominated for any book prizes this year. (No, not really. Let’s hope you have.) A new study coming out in the March issue of Administrative Science Quarterly finds that prize winners face a backlash from readers. According to The Guardian, Amanda Sharkey and Balázs Kovács looked at 38,817 reader reviews on They compared the reviews of books that had won an award to reviews of books that had not. Apparently the reviews of the award winners took a notable nose dive after their authors’ accolades were announced. Sharkey and Kovács hypothesized that “many readers who are drawn in by prize-winning books tend to have tastes that are simply not predisposed to liking the types of books that win prizes.” That sounds like a circumspect way of calling us superficial social climbers for reading a book because it won an award. Doesn’t everyone presume something award-winning must be particularly outstanding and therefore worthy of our time? That doesn’t mean every book that wins a Booker Prize or every movie that wins an Oscar or every restaurant that wins a James Beard Award is going to be your favorite thing ever, but still it’s worth a shot. Also, checking for your case study seems pretty amateur. What do you guys think? [The Guardian]


On the Books: Malala Yousafzai wins at Specsavers National Book Awards; Pew survey finds 95% of Americans call public libraries 'important'


Activist Malala Yousafzai has picked up another award for her book, while a Pew survey is shedding light on how Americans perceive public libraries. Read on for more top books headlines:

Malala Yousafzai’s I Am Malala has won the Nonfiction Book of the Year at the Specsavers National Book Awards, which showcases British authors as well as critically acclaimed books with worldwide appeal. [The Telegraph]

Here’s some good news: According to a new Pew survey, 95 percent of the 6200 Americans interviewed say they “agree that the materials and resources available at public libraries play an important role in giving everyone a chance to succeed.” And the bad news: Only 54 percent said they actually used a public library last year. [Pew]

The National Endowment for the Arts has granted 38 writers, including Catherine Chung, Peter Gadol, and Alex Espinoza, with their Creative Writing Fellowships, a $25,000 award for each to promote creative writing in 2014. [NEA]

Author and philosopher A.C. Grayling has been announced as the chair of the Man Booker Prize judging panel for 2014, the first year that U.S. authors will also be eligible. [The Telegraph]

Mark Yakich at The Atlantic explains why poetry matters. [The Atlantic]

The list parade continues with the Huffington Post‘s picks for the 30 best art books of 2013. [Huffington Post]

ICYMI: Jason Segel has been cast as David Foster Wallace in The End of the Tour, based on Rolling Stone reporter David Lipsky’s report on his road trip with the author. Jesse Eisenberg will be playing David Lipsky. [EW]

On the Books: Harper Lee sues hometown museum; Alice Munro to miss Nobel awards ceremony

This week’s books news kicks off with a lawsuit, a shortlist, and a petition. Read on for today’s top headlines:

To Kill a Mockingbird novelist Harper Lee is suing a museum in her hometown for selling souvenirs with her name on them. [USA Today]

The shortlist for the 2014 Red House Children’s Book Award has been announced. The winners will be announced in London on Feb. 22, 2014. [The Telegraph]

Alice Munro, the winner of this year’s Nobel Prize in Literature, will miss the awards ceremony in Stockholm for health reasons. [Nobel Prize Twitter]

After Eleanor Catton’s The Luminaries won the Man Booker Prize last week, British publisher Granta is rush-printing an extra 100,000 copies of the novel. [The Guardian]

Several self-published pornography writers whose works were removed by Amazon and other e-book retailers have launched a petition in protest. [LA Times]

Authors are accepting censorship rules in China in order to see their books published. [The New York Times]

Today’s must-read: John Williams’s Stoner has found an unexpected following in Europe, thanks to a translation by French writer Anna Gavalda. And as The New Yorker says, it’s the “greatest American novel you’ve never heard of.” [The New Yorker]

Up for debate: Sam Jordison argues that Edgar Allan Poe’s storytelling is more snooze-worthy than thrilling. Quoth the Raven: “Zzzzz.” [The Guardian]

On the Books: Apple to be monitored over deals with publishing houses; Amazon removes self-published pornographic e-books


No prizes or major announcements today, folks — this morning’s books headlines feature major companies hitting snags with publishing houses, but there are plenty of other good reads online. Check out more of today’s links below: READ FULL STORY

On the Books: Eleanor Catton wins Man Booker Prize; National Book Award finalists announced


Awards dominate today’s book news, with the youngest winner of the Man Booker Prize announced Tuesday night and the National Book Award finalists revealed this morning. Below, more of today’s top headlines and must-reads: READ FULL STORY

Eleanor Catton's 'Luminaries' wins fiction's Booker Prize

Youth and heft triumphed at the Booker Prize on Tuesday, as 28-year-old New Zealand author Eleanor Catton won the fiction award for The Luminaries, an ambitious 832-page murder mystery set during a 19th-century gold rush.

The choice should give heart to young authors of oversized tales. Catton is the youngest writer and only the second New Zealander to win the prestigious award — and her epic novel is easily the longest Booker champion.

Travel writer Robert Macfarlane, who chaired the judging panel, called The Luminaries “dazzling” and “luminous.”

“It is vast without being sprawling,” he said.

“You begin it, feel you are lost, think you are in the clutches of a big, baggy monster … but soon realize you are in something as tightly structured as an orrery,” a device for measuring the planets.

Latest Videos in Books


From Our Partners

TV Recaps

Powered by VIP