Man Booker Prize Awarded to Eleanor Catton for “The Luminaries”

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What were you doing at age 28? If you were author Eleanor Catton, you would be graciously accepting Britain’s highest literary honor, the Man Booker Prize.  Catton won the prestigious award for her  second novel The Luminaries In addition to making her the youngest recipient in the history of the prize, Catton’s 832 page novel is also the longest work to ever win.

The Luminaries is set in New Zealand during the gold rush of 1866.  Catton knows the country well, as she moved from Canada to New Zealand at the age of six.

Here is an excerpt from the novel, published by London’s The Telegraph.  Click here to read the longer sampling:

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Alice Munro Wins the 2013 Nobel Prize in Literature

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“A story is not like a road to follow…it’s more like a house. You go inside and stay there for a while, wandering back and forth and settling where you like and discovering how the room and corridors relate to each other, how the world outside is altered by being viewed from these windows.”

Canadian writer Alice Munro has been awarded 2013′s Nobel Prize in Literature.  Often heralded as “one of our greatest contemporary writers of fiction,” Munro is best known for her short stories which are accessible yet complex narratives about the human condition.  Her best-known works include “Lives of Girls and Women” (1973), “The Love of a Good Woman” (1998) and “Runaway” (2004). A collection of her work, “Too Much Happiness: Stories,” was published in 2009.

2009 is also the year in which Munro was award the coveted Man Booker International Prize for her lifetime body of work.  Additionally, she has been awarded Canada’s literary honor, the Scotiabank Giller Prize, twice.  She might have won a third but she removed her name from the contenders in 2009 saying that “she wanted to give younger, less-established authors an opportunity.”

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Life of Pi: the Book and the Movie

“Which story do you prefer?”

Have you been following the trailers for Life of Pi?

After months of anticipation, I was fortunate enough to attend a screening of it last night. The new movie is the cinematic adaptation of Yann Martel’s celebrated 2001 novel, is directed by Ang Lee, and has been generating Oscar buzz for weeks thanks to its imaginative art direction and astounding special effects. But there’s more about the film you should know…

There are a lot of movie adaptations set to be released in the upcoming months–The Hobbit, Anna Karenina, and The Great Gatsby to name a few–the wait for which brings excitement to the literary masses, though the products often bring disappointment; avid readers time after time conclude that the magic that comes with reading a novel just cannot be translated onto the big screen. And I am usually one of them.

But Life of Pi is a unique case. For one thing, I actually didn’t even enjoy the book all that much. My apologies in advance to the die-hard fans out there, because I know you’re there; the novel has such a polarizing effect, it seems that everyone I’ve ever talked to about it either loved it or couldn’t finish it. On the one hand, its manuscript was rejected by five publishing houses before it was accepted by Knopf, on the other it was endorsed by President Obama in a private letter to Martel as, “an elegant proof of God, and the power of storytelling.” Oh yes, and it won the Man Booker Prize in 2002.

What kind of precedence does that set for its translation into film? Well, having watched the movie, I can say that it’s given me a new appreciation for Martel’s storytelling. His writing, so hard for me to get through on paper, has been transformed into a format that can celebrate all of its surrealist qualities and make them magical. Just watch the scenes on meerkat island if you don’t believe me.

But you’d have to celebrate that surreality to make the film a success. In a novel, the allegorical tale of a boy sharing a lifeboat with a massive Bengal tiger just works. In a movie, the fact that it’s impossible to throw your lead actor in with a real-life mankiller is only upstaged by the greater challenge of bringing character to the animal and making him real. On that I will only say that I was told that fewer than a quarter of the tiger shots in the film depicted a non-CG tiger. Good luck picking out which ones. Not only do we end up believing Richard Parker is real and alive, but we, like Pi, believe in his soul, all thanks to the reality-bending technology of computer graphics and the artistry of Parker’s animators.

Because of his embrace of the novel’s surreality, director Ang Lee has not only managed to retell Martel’s story, but to bring to it a spark of magic that is normally only reserved for the original book, something relatively unheard of in an adaptation.

Based on Martel’s own words from the novel, I think he’d agree:

“That’s what fiction is about, isn’t it, the selective transforming of reality? The twisting of it to bring out its essence?”

Life of Pi

So, are you excited to see a movie based on this bestselling book? What are your thoughts and expectations for movie adaptations, or this one in particular?

More on Life of Pi from eNotes:

The Life of Pi eNotes Study Guide, a perfect reading companion complete with chapter summaries and analysis. Have a question? Post it to our Q&A area for the novel and our expert editors will provide answers.

Test your knowledge of the novel with eNotes’ Life of Pi Study Questions.

Teachers, planning on teaching Life of Pi in the classroom? We have an eNotes exclusive Teaching Unit to help you with that, plus related lesson plans from Prestwick House Publishers to aid your instruction.


Bring Up the Booker

Yesterday the prestigious Man Booker prize was awarded, breaking two important records in the process. The lucky recipient Hilary Mantel became the first woman to win the award twice, and the first author to win it for a consecutive sequel.

British author Mantel won her first Booker prize in 2009 with the historical fiction novel Wolf Hall. The story follows “the rapid rise to power of Thomas Cromwell in the court of Henry VIII of England.” From there, Mantel set to work on creating a trilogy from the acclaimed novel. Bring Up the Bodies, the winner of this year’s Man Booker prize, is the second installment in that trilogy. The novel picks up where its predecessor left off, detailing Anne Boleyn’s fall from grace and eventual execution.

Sir Peter Stothard, chairman of the judging committee, had high praise for both Mantel and Bring Up the Bodies:

She has recast the most essential period of our modern English history; we have the greatest modern English prose writer reviving possibly one of the best known pieces of English history… It is well-trodden territory with an inevitable outcome, and yet she is able to bring it to life as though for the first time.

Canadian author Margaret Atwood, five times shortlisted for the Booker prize herself, had equally raving comments for Mantel in her Guardian review of Bring Up the Bodies from May of this year:

Literary invention does not fail her: she’s as deft and verbally adroit as ever.

On top of those accolades, Mantel will take home a £50,000 prize, not to mention a massive boost in sales. So influential is the award on readers, that revenue for every Booker winner increases by at least £1m. When Yan Martel took home the Booker in 2002, his novel Life of Pi soared to over £10m in sales (that’s over $16m). Although, we wouldn’t say that Mantel’s sales of her latest book are exactly suffering…

According to the latest figures, Mantel’s Bring up the Bodies has sold 108,342 copies, which is more than the other 11 Man Booker longlisted novels combined.

Add to that the fact that Mantel’s first two installments of the trilogy have already been set to be adapted into a BBC TV series, and we’re sure the author is quite happy with her recent success.

In fact, her happy disbelief came across onstage as she accepted her award with a quip:

You wait 20 years for a Booker Prize and two come along at once.

I know how privileged and lucky I am to be standing here tonight. I regard this as an act of faith and a vote of confidence.

Congratulations to Hilary Mantel, not just for winning this award, prestigious in its own right, but for winning it twice and being the first woman to do so. Cheers!

No doubt our fascination with all things Tudor and deliciously bloodthirsty will continue when Mantel releases the finale to her trilogy, which she has already named The Mirror and the Light. Perhaps the third time will be a charm that brings this writer another feather in her already impressive cap.


A Nobel Gamble

Place your bets!

Deliberations for who will win the 2012 Nobel Prize for Literature will shortly be under way. With an impressive lineup of entries to choose from, there can be no surefire bet for who will take this coveted award. That’s because currently the odds are only at 5/1 for the win.

Yes, not satisfied with the profits from gambling on sports, bookies have found a way to hedge bets on prestigious literary awards. Ladbrokes, a British betting enterprise dating back to 1886, offers odds for the 2012 Man Booker Prize and the Nobel Prize for Literature, among others.

Fancy a gamble? Here are the frontrunners as they stand now:

Haruki Murakami 5/1

Bob Dylan 10/1

Mo Yan 12/1

Cees Nooteboom 12/1

Ismail Kadare 14/1

Adonis 14/1

Ko Un 14/1

Murakami has a clear lead with far safer odds than his fellow nominees. His most recent work, IQ84, was translated from Japanese in 2011, and has received high acclaim from both critics and readers.

Bob Dylan is slightly more out of place this high in the list. Though his chances may appear strong, they’re deceived by his popularity. Those placing bets are more likely to choose a name that’s familiar to them. Gamblers loyal to him placed £100-plus bets that shot him up the list, from 100/1 to 10/1, bounding past far better respected writers Tom Stoppard and Cormac McCarthy (both 16/1). Ladbrokes’ spokesman Alex Donohue puts Dylan’s chances rather bluntly,

We’re happy to ‘fill the satchel’ in bookmaking terms as we expect the Dylan backers to part with their cash again this year.

And if that doesn’t seal his fate for you, perhaps Swedish nobel panel member Horace Engdahl’s “professed hostility for ‘parochial’ American writing” will–alongside MA Orthofer‘s sound advice:

If you know anyone who has actually generously donated money to Ladbrokes by ‘betting’ on him please try to get them professional help, either from a psychiatrist or an accountant.

Yes, I think that says it all; no Nobel for Dylan this year folks.

If you can’t put a face to the names in the 3rd and 4th spots, it might be because they’re newcomers to the Nobel scene. Mo Yan is a subversive author, once described by a TIME article as “one of the most famous, oft-banned and widely pirated of all Chinese writers.” Nooteboom, a Dutch writer, enters the longlist for the first time in his extensive career, having published his first novel in 1955 at the age of 22. 46 of this year’s 210 nominees are first-time candidates for the prize.

Notable writers from further down the list include Philip Roth (16/1), Joyce Carol Oates (33/1), Ian McEwan (50/1), Margaret Atwood (50/1), Salman Rushdie (66/1), Ursula LeGuin (66/1), and–winner of the 2011 Man Booker Prize for The Sense of an EndingJulian Barnes (66/1).

So how accurate are the odds? Last year the winner of the prize, Swedish poet Tomas Tranströmer, was given 9/2 odds, behind the favorite to win, Adonis, a Syrian poet who still ranks high on the list this year at 14/1. Therefore, Murakami isn’t a completely safe bet, but his chances are looking rather strong.

Deliberations will begin in about a week’s time. The announcement date for the winner has not yet been released.


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