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.

Photo: Getty
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Moss Side Public Laundry, 1979

A new poem by Pippa Little.

Childless I arrive with a rucksack,
own no Silver Cross steered topple-high
by the bare-legged women in check coats
and bulging shoes who load and unload
ropes of wet sheets, wring them out
to rams’ horns while heat-slap of steam
dries to tinsel in our hair, frizzles our lips
gritty with Daz sherbert dabs and the mangle,
wide as a room-size remnant, never stops groaning
one slip and you’re done for…

In the boom and echo of it, their calls swoop
over Cross-your-Hearts, Man. City socks,
crimplene pinks and snagged underskirts,
Maggie Maggie Maggie Out Out Out! blasts
from across the park, whole streets
get knocked out like teeth,
in a back alley on the way a man
jumped me, shocked as I was
by the fuck off! I didn’t know was in me

but which I try out now to make them laugh, these women
who scrub blood and beer and come
with red-brick soap, quick-starch a party dress
while dryers flop and roar
before their kids fly out of school,
flock outside for a smoke’s sweet rest
from the future bearing down of four walls and one man.

Pippa Little’s collection Overwintering (Carcanet) was shortlisted for the Seamus Heaney Centre Award. Her new book, Twist, was published in March by Arc. 

This article first appeared in the 20 July 2017 issue of the New Statesman, The new world disorder