I had some short stories, poems and photographs to share ... and so here I am

A Second Kiwi Booker ?

My fingers and toes are crossed, hoping that next month another kiwi will bag a Booker! You probably already know that Mister Pip, by New Zealander Lloyd Jones, is in the running for this year's Man Booker Prize, and that he's even been named by the bookies as favourite to win ... above Ian McEwan! If he wins, it'll only be the second time that a New Zealander has won a Booker. So, of course, us fellow kiwis - sprinkled as we are around the world - must celebrate this literary achievement. How will I do that? I have ordered Jones' book, which is said to be a real treat. The winner is announced on October the 16th and I really hope that Jones can pull it off. Of course, I'm saying that before I've even read the book, but you can understand my bias, no? Graham Sharpe from the bookies William Hill was quoted as saying: ”We have seen an unprecedented gamble on this virtually unknown writer. In a quarter of a century of Booker betting I cannot recall as spectacular a gamble before and we could be looking at our first six -figure payout in Booker history. We are even seeing people betting on a double of New Zealander Jones winning the Booker and hot favourites New Zealand winning the rugby World Cup which currently pays odds of 7/2.” It's wonderful that this work, which also won the Commonwealth Writers Prize for Best Book in 2006, has been able to get its head above the choppy waters of international literature.

To date Keri Hulme is the only kiwi who has a Booker sitting on her shelf - I assume she hasn't sold it or binned it! The Bone People, which is one of my favourite books of all time, won back in 1985. I will never forget the experience of reading this for the first time, at the age of 18, so blown away by the style. It was so different to anything I had ever read and the characters have never left me. It is one of the few books that I have read several times. If you haven't read it then I highly recommend you do. It is very hard to describe the experience, what makes it a winner on so many levels. Of course, many people disagree, and there was enormous controversy when it won. The story of how the book was born - rejected by mainstream publishers and then taken on by a women's collective - is great. Keri Hulme herself is a wonderful, colourful character: she lives in a house she built herself; she's mad about fishing; she has been working on "twin" follow-up novels for years, living alone in a wild, coastal part of New Zealand's south island. The media often describes her as someone who's turned into a recluse, a label she flatly rejects. Yes, she does get out of the house and she does see people! I just hope that she does publish some more novels. There have been some short stories and other pieces of wonderful writing over the years since her win, but I am keen to skin and cook up something more substantial.


Wanderlust Scarlett said...

Those have just been added to my reading list. Thanks for the great inside scoop!

Here's hoping!!

PS-working on getting that other lion thing over to you asap. School... you know.

Scarlett & Viaggiatore

Unknown said...

Well good luck Seamus (for the Kiwis I mean). I am trying desperately to ignore the rugby world cup, but those pesky fans keep packing out my metro home! Tsk! When I get through my current pile of books to read I will see if I can find The Bone People. I'll wait until you've read the other one before I go look for it ;)

Meloney Lemon said...

I agree about the Bone People. There's something very special about it. I've not read it for ages but can still recall it's atmosphere as if I had physically been there.

S. Kearney said...

Hi Wanderlust,
Let me know what you think ... The Bone People is set in NZ, so at least you will have a nice journey to an isolated part of it. And re the lion's project ... yes yes yes.:)

Hi. You should be able to find quite cheap copies of TBP on amazon. It certainly is a unique reading experience. Lyon will be overrun with kiwis today - they're here to play Portugal! I'm staying under cover! :)

Ohhhhhh! How exciting to come across someone in Europe who knows the book. I'm glad you liked it. I wonder how you would feel on a reread? I must do that soon ... it's been a few years now since I last read it. The magical formula in the writing is very comforting and inspiring. :)

L.M.Noonan said...

likewise...thanks for the tips. I want to read the bone people first. Sounds more to my taste. How are you coping with the pressure of the writing circle. I'm finding myself stretched as it is with my various blogs. Perhaps you need to delegate or at least share some of the responsibility

Kay Cooke said...

'The Bone People' was an amazing book - I loved it too.
I will be interested in your response to 'Mr Pip'. It's an extremely well-written book. I think I enjoyed his book about the Invincible rugby team better tho' But that's just me.
I read 'The Sea' by Booker winner Banville and wasn't too impressed. (Is there something wrong with me?) Here's hoping 'Mr Pip' wins the Booker Prize.

Unknown said...

Agh, another one for the TBR list! And if someone could just manage to to cancel the rugby I might be in with a chance of getting some reading in.

S. Kearney said...

Yes, I highly recommend TBP. It's about a mysterious boy who turns up at the home of a woman living in a rugged part of NZ, and the light/dark relationship that forms between the boy, the woman and her male friend. It's dark in places, but spills over with maori tradition, spiritualism, humour.
Re the lion circle ... Scarlett is working on a little project, and I'm going to get a writing project up soon. :) Watch this place.

Hi ChiefBiscuit,
I think TBP must be a favourite book for many NZers. I will read Mister Pip soon and will share my verdict here. :) I haven't read Banville's Booker yet. It's on the list!

I have loads of time set aside for reading but end up getting distracted by so much else that goes on around me. Let's not even talk about the writing! :)