The judges for the 2016 Man Booker Prize for Fiction were announced today.
Amanda Foreman, who judged the prize in 2012, will chair the panel of five, which comprises a critic, a novelist, a poet and an actor.
The 2016 panel is Amanda Foreman (Chair), award-winning historian and author of the international bestseller Georgiana, Duchess of Devonshire; Jon Day, critic and lecturer in English at King’s College London, specialising in modernist fiction; Abdulrazak Gurnah, Booker Prize-shortlisted novelist and Professor of English and Postcolonial Literatures at the University of Kent; David Harsent, poet and Professor of Creative Writing at the University of Roehampton; and Olivia Williams, actor, currently starring in a National Theatre production of Harley Granville-Barker’s Waste.
Gurnah was the chair of judges for the 2003 Caine Prize for African Writing, which was won by Yvonne Adhiambo Owuor for “Weight of Whispers”.
Foreman said: “I am honoured to be chairing such a distinguished panel of Man Booker judges. We have an incredibly intense and stimulating time ahead of us.
“For nearly 50 years the Prize has played a special role in its contribution to modern culture. It is also unique in the demands it places on the judges. But rising to the challenge is part of what makes it a once-in-a-lifetime experience. If anybody needs to speak to me, I’ll be in my study, reading.”
The “Man Booker Dozen” of 12 or 13 books will be announced in late July, 2016, and the shortlist of six books in early September. The winner of the 2016 Man Booker Prize for Fiction will be announced on 11 October, 2016, at an awards ceremony at London’s Guildhall.
The 2015 Man Booker Prize was won by Marlon James, for his third novel, A Brief History of Seven Killings. The 44-year-old author became the first Jamaican to win the prize since it was established in 1969.
According to the Prize, in the week following the award announcement, 12 466 physical copies of A Brief History of Seven Killings were sold. The book also went to number one on iTunes and number three in the Amazon charts, a 933 percent increase on the previous week. Independent publisher Oneworld issued an immediate reprint of 182 500 copies and last month released a 25 000 print run of a special hardback edition of the book. To date, over 260 000 print copies of the book have been sold internationally, and foreign language rights have been sold to 16 markets.
The Man Booker Prize 2016 Judges
Dr Amanda Foreman (Chair): Award-winning historian, and columnist for The Wall Street Journal, The Sunday Times and The Smithsonian Magazine. Her first book, Georgiana, Duchess of Devonshire, was an international bestseller, and won the 1998 Whitbread Prize for Biography. It has been developed into a television documentary, a radio play starring Dame Judi Dench and the Oscar-winning film, The Duchess. Her second book, A World on Fire, was also a bestseller and won the Fletcher Pratt Award for Civil War History. It was a runner-up for five further awards, including the National Book Critics Circle Award, and was chosen by The New York Times as one of the ten best books of 2011. In 2015 Foreman wrote and presented The Ascent of Woman, a critically acclaimed documentary series for BBC2. Foreman divides her time between London and New York, where she founded House of SpeakEasy, a non-profit organisation that works with local communities to bring writers and audiences together in innovative ways.
Jon Day: Writer and academic born in London in 1984. He was educated at St John’s College, Oxford, and is now a lecturer in English and the Medical Humanities at King’s College London. At King’s he teaches courses on modernist fiction and the philosophy of mind, literature and psychiatry, and the twentieth century city. His essays and reviews have appeared in the London Review of Books, the Times Literary Supplement, n+1, and the Guardian. He writes about art for Apollo, and is a regular fiction critic for the Telegraph and the Financial Times, and a contributing editor of the Junket. His book, Cyclogeography, a philosophical memoir about the three years he spent as a London bicycle courier, was published by Notting Hill Editions earlier this year. He is currently writing a book about fishing.
Abdulrazak Gurnah: Novelist, and Professor of English and Postcolonial Literatures at the University of Kent. He was born in Zanzibar and now lives in Canterbury, Kent. His novel, Paradise, was shortlisted for The Booker Prize in 1994, and By the Sea was longlisted in 2001. He has edited two volumes of Essays on African Writing, was 2003 chair of judges of The Caine Prize for African Writing, and is the editor of The Cambridge Companion to Salman Rushdie. His last novel was The Last Gift (2011).
David Harsent: Poet and Professor of Creative Writing at the University of Roehampton. David won the Forward Prize for Legion and the Griffin International Poetry Prize for Night. Fire Songs, the most recent of his eleven volumes of poetry, won the T.S. Eliot Prize in January. He has collaborated with composers – most often with Harrison Birtwistle – on operas and song cycles which have been performed at venues including the Royal Opera House and Carnegie Hall. Writing under a pseudonym, he has published ten thrillers.
Olivia Williams: Actor. After reading English at Cambridge, Olivia went on to work in both theatre and film with, amongst others, the National Theatre, the RSC, Cheek by Jowl and the Donmar Warehouse, and with directors such as Wes Anderson, David Cronenberg, David Hare, Joss Whedon, Joe Wright and Trevor Nunn. In 2010, she won both the London and New York Critics’ Circle Awards for her performance in Roman Polanski’s film of the Robert Harris novel The Ghost. She is currently appearing in the National Theatre production of Harley Granville-Barker’s once-scandalous Edwardian play Waste, directed by Roger Michell, and the US TV show Manhattan, which documents the invention of the first atomic weapon. She has written for The Independent, The Daily Telegraph and BBC Radio 4.
Image credit: Mark Cocksedge
- A Brief History of Seven Killings by Marlon James
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