Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Six of the Best

I was thinking I'm overdue a blog post and then had forgotten that today was the announcement of the Booker Prize shortlist. As I mused over the longlist, its followed the pattern, to the letter, of a third British and Irish, a third American, a third Commonwealth - which I suspect will become the default over the next few years. This can enhance the prize, even if it doesn't do much for British letters. I think the presence of Marilynne Robinson and Anne Tyler on the longlist gives the prize gravitas, even as we have to admit that the world of literature has changed - and the days of "big name" or even "midlist" writers may be over. Only Tom McCarthy - with his fourth novel - is a previous shortlisted writer, and he is very much a millennial writer - yet he's my own generation, so in his mid forties, whose "Remainder" only got published in 2005, and then by a tiny art press. We're perhaps in the age of one off books rather than of emblematic writers - perhaps thats a good thing - like in music, we are in an age of plenty, yet without any obvious giants. Maybe, thats always been the way, and perhaps the Booker is more about "The Life of Pi" and "The God of All Small Things" than it is about Julian Barnes or Ian McEwan.

Anyway, it looks a strong list... though I'm aware I've only read one of last years, so I'm in no hurry to plough through this year's.

Locally there's plenty of literature coming up - with Manchester Literature Festival just round the corner, (it starts on 12th October, and more on that nearer the time) but there other events taking place here, there and everywhere. A rare treat at Verbose in Fallowfield in a fortnight - when the tutors from the Manchester School of New Writing get a chance to put their best foot forward.
This Saturday I hope I can convince a few folks along to Manchester's newest lit scene hangout Chapter 1 Books for reading by my friend and fellow Salt Modern Voice, J.T. Welsch alongside Australian poet Michael Farrell.

Next week there are 2 great events at Anthony Burgess foundation - firstly a reissue of Burgess's Shakespeare book is celebrated next Thursday, then on 25th, two more writer friends, both alumni of University of Manchester (before it was the School of New Writing), Emma Jane Unsworth and Lee Rourke, talking about their different takes on writing about Manchester. I'm away for this unfortunately, but you don't have to be!

All good - and maybe it will help me get my literature hat back on. I've felt a little (a lot?) unliterary the last two or three weeks - hardly writing or reading a work. These creative troughs are part of the game I guess, but it seems ages since I wrote anything (though I finished three stories at the end of August!)

Though its a bit (a lot?) of a lottery, still time to save up your pennies, and get your entries into the Manchester Writing Competition - closing date for both fiction and poetry is a week on Friday. Now where's that idea I had....

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