Between the Covers 15/09/13

What's really going on in the world of books

The New Angle Award for East Anglian Literature has just been announced, with Jules Pretty taking the prize for This Luminous Coast (Full Circle Editions). He wasn’t the only one at the reception to take home a prize, though. The ceremony at The Cookhouse Restaurant, which overlooks the river Orwell near Ipswich, was attended by “a cluster of crab fishermen”, we’re told, who feature in the shortlisted book The Last Hunters, by Candy Whittome.

One of the crabmen won the prize draw and took home a set of the shortlisted books, and all of them signed copies of The Last Hunters. Books signed by the famous crabmen might still be available, if you’re lucky, from the Aldeburgh Bookshop.

This year’s Man Booker longlisted authors have all been talking about their favourite ever Booker-winning novels, and most of them have been gushing about the quality on offer. Ruth Ozeki, for instance, said: “Favourites are impossible because they keep changing, but as of a few moments ago, it’s A S Byatt’s Possession, which ...  I took from my bookshelf and started  re-reading and now cannot put down.” Jim Crace, on the other hand, said: “Nadine Gordimer’s The Conservationist is my all-time favourite, but ... I’ve valued all of them, except one.”

The Man Booker shortlist party was held, bravely, at the new Serpentine Gallery Pavilion, designed by the Japanese architect Sou Fujimoto. “It is a really fundamental question how architecture is different from nature, or how architecture could be part of nature, or how they could be merged ... what are the boundaries between nature and artificial things,” he says. We’re still not sure of the answer to that question, but guests who attended the shortlist party can tell you categorically that no, the spectacular, Sticklebrick-like building does not keep off the rain.

How did the judges choose “one of the most diverse shortlists in Man Booker history”, people keep asking? It’s simple, according to one of the judges, the critic Stuart Kelly. “Prioritising quality results in diversity,” he told Covers, as raindrops ran down our necks.

To all those readers panicking about  the “intellectual vandalism” of Margaret Atwood and Howard Jacobson rewriting Shakespeare, don’t panic: the originals are not going anywhere!

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