Published on Submitted by Natalie on Thu, 21/02/2008 - 15:46
The Best of the Booker, a one-off award, is announced today to celebrate the 40th anniversary of The Booker Prize. The Man Booker Prize for Fiction recognises and is awarded for the best novel of the year; and now The Best of the Booker will honour the best overall novel to have won the prize since it was first awarded on 22 April 1969.
This is only the second time that a celebratory award has been created. The first was in 1993 – the 25th anniversary - when Salman Rushdie won the Booker of Bookers with In all, 41 novelists have won the prize over the years because in 1974 and 1992 there were two winners. In 1974 Nadine Gordimer won with The Conservationist and Stanley Middleton with Holiday. In 1992 Michael Ondaatje’s The English Patient shared the top spot with Barry Unsworth’s Sacred Hunger.
For The Best of the Booker, a panel of judges has been appointed to select a shortlist of six novels. They are biographer, novelist and critic Victoria Glendinning, (Chair); writer and broadcaster Mariella Frostrup, and John Mullan, Professor of English at UCL. Their shortlist will be announced in May, and public voting will then begin via the Man Booker Prize website - www.themanbookerprize.com.
Victoria Glendinning comments: ‘The Best of the Booker is a wonderful opportunity to read, or reread, some of the best literature in English of the past four decades. We are having a very good time revisiting the now-classic novels which won the Booker long ago, as well as the celebrated ones from recent years. All readers will enjoy this, and we look forward to hearing what the voters think - and which one, from our shortlist, they will judge the Best of the Booker.’
The overall winner of The Best of the Booker will be announced at the London Literature Festival at the Southbank Centre in July, accompanied by a series of events debating and celebrating the prize. The winner will be awarded a custom-made trophy.
Other celebrations to mark the anniversary include an exhibition at the V&A telling the visual story of the prize over its 40 years, and The Booker at the Movies, a season in June at the Institute of Contemporary Arts featuring films from Booker prize-winning books and authors. Also for the anniversary, The British Council is working towards the creation of an online collection of contemporary British literature. The Council is in negotiation with publishers to include former winners of the Booker Prize and Man Booker Prize as e-books for a pilot project.
Victoria Glendinning is a biographer, critic, broadcaster and novelist. She has written biographies of Elizabeth Bowen, Edith Sitwell (which won both the James Tait Black Award and the Duff Cooper Prize), Vita Sackville-West (Whitbread Prize for Biography), Rebecca West, Anthony Trollope (Whitbread Prize for Biography), Leonard Woolf and a biographical book about Jonathan Swift. She has published three novels, The Grown-Ups, Electricity, and Flight. Her next publication will be Love’s Civil War, an edition of the love-letters of Anglo-Irish novelist Elizabeth Bowen.
Victoria was Chair of Judges for The Booker Prize in 1992 and is a member of the Man Booker Prize Advisory Committee. She is a Vice-president of the English Centre of PEN, a Fellow and Vice-president of the Royal Society of Literature, and is on the Council of the Society of Authors. She has been awarded a CBE, and has four Honorary Doctorates, from the universities of Southampton, Ulster and York, and from Trinity College, Dublin. She has four sons, seven grandchildren and lives in Somerset with her third husband Kevin O’Sullivan and two cats.
Mariella Frostrup is a leading journalist and broadcaster. Defying any attempt to pigeonhole her skills and talents, Mariella has made her mark on a wide variety of programmes. In a fifteen-year television career she has continued to impress both audiences and critics with her friendly, accessible and intelligent screen presence. Her projects run the gamut from current affairs (Panorama, Question Time and Backlash) to movies and the arts.
Mariella presents The Book Show for Sky Arts and Open Book for BBC Radio 4. She combines her television and radio career with that of a prolific journalist. She is currently the film critic for Harpers and Queen and has a weekly dilemma column in The Observer Magazine, for which she also writes major interviews.
Mariella is a respected arts critic and has sat on the judging panels of various awards including the Man Booker Prize in 2000.
John Mullan is Professor of English at University College London. He is the author of the newly published Anonymity. A Secret History of English Literature (Faber and Faber) and How Novels Work (OUP). He has published widely on eighteenth- and nineteenth-century literature. He is a broadcaster and journalist as well as an academic, and writes a weekly column on contemporary fiction for The Guardian.
Notes to editors
The Booker Prize for Fiction was first awarded in 1969, and Man Group plc was announced as the sponsor of the prize in April 2002, with a five year extension agreed in 2006. For a full history of the prize including previous winners, shortlisted authors and judges visit the website: www.themanbookerprize.com. The site features the rules of entry, background information and breaking news and is the quickest way for the prize’s worldwide audience to access information.
The site, which incorporates a new look for the 40th anniversary, is rapidly becoming a key reference for contemporary fiction. It includes Perspective, an online magazine, featuring Q&A interviews, written pieces and a Literary Calendar.
41 authors have won the prize since it launched in 1969 because in 1974 and 1992 there were two winners. From 1993 onwards the rules stipulated that there could only be one winner every year.
The Advisory Committee, which advises on any changes to the rules and on the selection of the judges, represents all sides of the book world. Its members are: Ion Trewin (Administrator, Man Booker Prizes); Richard Cable, publisher; Mark Chilton, Company Secretary, Booker Ltd; Jonathan Douglas, Director of the National Literacy Trust; Victoria Glendinning, writer; Basil Comely, BBC TV; Derek Johns, Managing Director, AP Watt; Gerry Johnson, Managing Director, Waterstone’s; Peter Clarke, Chief Executive, Man Group plc; Fiammetta Rocco, literary editor, The Economist (Man Booker International Prize administrator); Eve Smith (Company Secretary, the Booker Prize Foundation); and Erica Wagner, literary editor, The Times.
The Booker Prize Foundation is a registered charity (no 1090049) which, since 2002, has been responsible for the award of the prize. The trustees of the Booker Prize Foundation are former Chairman of Booker plc, Jonathan Taylor CBE (Chair); Lord Baker of Dorking CH; former Man Booker Prize administrator, Martyn Goff CBE; playwright and President of the Royal Literary Fund, Ronald Harwood CBE; former Chair of the British Council, Baroness Kennedy QC; writer, Baroness Neuberger DBE; MEP Baroness Nicholson of Winterbourne; and former Finance Director of Rentokil plc, Christopher Pearce
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