Booker bonanza

Excitement mounts ahead of tonight's Man Booker Prize announcement

The winner of the Man Booker Prize is announced in a ceremony at the Guildhall this evening. I blogged last month on the announcement of the shortlist, which is one of the strongest in years. (Here, incidentally, is a link to Michael Sayeau's review of J M Coetzee's Summertime, which ran after the shortlist was disclosed.)

Apparently, there's been heavy betting on tonight's outcome, with William Hill reporting that most of the money has been placed on Hilary Mantel's Wolf Hall. No surprise there. Much more intriguing, though, is the late surge of punters' interest in The Glass Room by Simon Mawer, by some distance the least celebrated writer on the list. Graham Sharpe of William Hill says that "over the weekend there was significant support for Simon Mawer, forcing his odds right down from being the complete outsider to become clear second favourite". Do they know something we don't?

While you await the outcome, read this profile of Mawer by Sarah Crown.

Jonathan Derbyshire is Managing Editor of Prospect. He was formerly Culture Editor of the New Statesman.

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On Wheels

A new poem by Patrick Mackie

The hills swarm and soften towards the end of the day just as
flames do in a fireplace as the evening
loosens and breaks open and lets out night.
A nasty, grotesque, impatient year ended,
and the new one will be bitter,
tired, opaque. Words wrangle in every inch of air,
their mouths wide open in stupid shock
at what they have just heard every time they hear anything. Venus,
though, blazes with heavy wobbles of albeit frozen
light. Brecht, who I like to call my
brother just as he called Shelley his,
has a short late poem where he sits by a roadside, waiting
while someone changes the wheel on his car,
watching with impatience, despite not liking
either the place that he is coming from or
the place that he is going to. We call it
connectivity when in truth it is just aggression
and imitation writ ever larger. Poems, though,
are forms of infinite and wry but also briskly
impatient patience. Brecht’s poem seems to end,
for instance, almost before you
can read it. It wheels. The goddess is just a big, bright
wilderness but then soon enough she clothes
herself again in the openness of night and I lose her.

Patrick Mackie’s latest collection, The Further Adventures Of The Lives Of The Saints, is published by CB Editions.

This article first appeared in the 18 May 2017 issue of the New Statesman, Age of Lies

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