As you may remember, we are great admirers of the pomp and pageantry that accompanies the Man Booker Prize. So, it was with great excitement that we looked through the official pictures of last week's 2013 banquet and shortlisted authors. Naturally we were also pretty excited to find out who the winner of the prize was and compare it to our predictions.
Guess what? We lost. Both of us failed to predict the winner (here and here, and the only thing that we could have come close to taking credit for was not giving We Need New Names a superlative in the post leading up to the announcement. In fact, the winner was The Luminaries by Eleanor Catton, an 800+ page historical fiction novel about prospectors in New Zealand. Aside from all the praise we hear about it (and its landmark Man Booker accolade), we note that it garners the superlative Most Difficult for Booker-phile Americans to Have Read Before the Prize Announcement. Perhaps some of you were able to land a copy as soon as it was released, but it would take terrifyingly fast reading to get through all those pages before the prize announcement a few hours later, and we completely failed on that account. We consider this as the Booker reaffirming its place as a BRITISH prize, even if all English-language novels are eligible next year. (Although we trust the book is excellent in and of itself.)
But as happy as we are to still have the Man Booker winner left to read this year, we are THRILLED to check out the photos of the banquet provided by the Man Booker Media page. As if the fancy place-settings weren't enough, this year THE DUCHESS OF CORNWALL was a guest of honor! (Actual Royalty trumps any mere royal-looking hall.)
In a scene very similar to the 2012 Booker Banquet, everything looks posh.
Hello, Duchess of Cornwall! (And well played.)
Shortlisted Jhumpa Lahiri chats with (or listens to) HRH The Duchess of Cornwall while fellow shortlisted author, Ruth Ozeki, mingles with
people not as important to prominently place in photos presumed favorite for the prize, Jim Crace.
Unlike the shots of gentle camaraderie we see with authors and publishers, this media-involved mother/daughter pair seems pretty intense. Like, WE ARE HERE BECAUSE WE ARE LITERARY AND PART OF THE CAST OF DALLAS.
(Okay, to be fair we have heard of the mother, Anne Robinson, who was the snarky host of The Weakest Link way back when. We're still not sure why that gets her an invite to the Man Booker banquet, though.)
But over all, everyone seems happy. Here's retiring author, Jim Crace, holding his uniquely bound edition of his shortlisted novel. The artist thankfully chose not to make this memorable copy look like the horror movie the US edition seems to promise.
Everyone is in such good spirits that they will pretend that Colm Tóibín is not the Branson of the bunch, the one gentleman not sporting a bow tie because he's Irish and too proud to bother with English tradition.
Better luck at universal bow tie wearing next year!