The Man Booker Prize
Paul Beatty’s The Sellout bags fiction’s most prestigious prize
The discussions have been had, the votes are in and the verdict has been reached. In a process that began back last December with the confirmation of this year’s judges, the 2016 Man Booker Prize for Fiction has reached its finale and we’re delighted to confirm Paul Beatty and his razor-edged satire The Sellout as its worthy victor.
Taking no prisoners in its heady exhumation of African-American culture, the Supreme Court beckons as ‘Me’ – the African American protagonist at the novel’s core – audaciously sets about re-establishing slavery in a dying district of Los Angeles. With a wild, deeply moral wit that has borne comparison to Mark Twain and Kurt Vonnegut, the eager spyglass of Beatty misses nothing in his systematic exhumation of contemporary cultural totems. Referred to as ‘viscerally engaging’ by Bill Broun in the Times Literary Supplement, The Sellout has been something of a critical juggernaut in the States, widely regarded as a properly unflinching benchmark of its kind.
Our Fiction Buyer Chris White commented that 'the Booker judges have awarded the most significant of literary prizes to what feels like the most significant novel to have emerged in these strange and difficult times. I'm delighted for Paul Beatty who gave such a stirring and emotional acceptance speech. I'm delighted for Oneworld: a small, independent publisher which only started publishing fiction a few years ago. To have won two Booker prizes on the trot speaks to a brave and remarkable editorial eye. Most of all, though, I am delighted for the thousands of new readers who are about to experience this extraordinary book for the first time. Paul Beatty may have said that he hates to write but I love that he has written The Sellout."
There’s no doubt that this year’s Man Booker almost immediately and consciously eschewed the established for a rather courageous selection of new writing, acknowledging the progression that must sit at the heart of any medium. The Sellout – in all its blazing, anarchic glory – confirms that the novel is, even now, an evolving, exciting form, and that Beatty is just the author to lead the charge for that change.
The Sellout is available to purchase now either online at Waterstones.com or, availability permitting, at your local Waterstones bookshop and in our exclusive Q&A interview online you can discover what sets apart a truly great writer. We heartily congratulate Paul on his victory and hungrily anticipate what his future as a writer may bring.
Waterstones Alumnus Graeme Macrae Burnet in the Running for Man Booker Victory
Although seven hopes may have been cruelly dashed at this week’s revelation of the Man Booker Prize 2016 shortlist, for us at Waterstones we can’t help but feel a little partisan as one of our own sprints into the final six. Ex-bookseller of our fine Scottish flagship Glasgow Sauchiehall Street, Graeme Macrae Burnet now finds himself very much in the running for his masterful novel of
With giants such as two-time Booker winner J.M. Coetzee and sometime Booker judge A.L. Kennedy now gone in the shortlist reckoning, the field has now been blasted open to reveal an intensely even-handed field that is ripe for intense speculation. The remaining titles are of course exceptional and several weeks of reading pleasure beckons until the next point on the Booker calendar, cutting straight to the chase on the evening of Tuesday 25 October when the winner will be revealed.
Beatty’s caustic satire on racial debate takes no prisoners in its heady exhumation of African-American culture; the Supreme Court beckons as ‘Me’ – the novel’s central character – sets about re-establishing slavery in a dying district of Los Angeles. ‘…Daring and abrasive… a joy to read,’ – The Guardian
Sofia is in her mid-twenties and adrift, a half-Greek graduate of anthropology who finds herself suspending her doctorate to care for her paralysed mother. Surrounded by an assembly of bizarre incident and strange, needful characters, Sofia’s fractured sense of self is hypnotically realised by Levy’s knowing prose.
Period authenticity and language course through Burnet’s gripping 1869 tale of triple murder in remote Wester Ross. Through a series of found documents, Burnet skilfully sets out a brilliantly-interleaved narrative of persecution and murder, evoking what the Sunday Herald termed a ‘tour de force… Stevensonian.’
‘This is the story of how I disappeared.’ The eponymous Eileen arrives fully-formed and filled with contradictory self-loathing in Moshfegh’s first novel after her debut novella McGlue in 2014. A future, now elderly, Eileen looks back on her twenty-something self, trapped by small-town
The crisis of the European male forms the spine of Szalay’s loosely-connected series of nine tales which comprise his fourth novel. For each
Thien’s ambitious novel tracks China from the foundation of the People’s Republic in 1949 through to the present day. Three musical prodigies from the Shanghai Conservatory of Music provide the story’s emotional heft, their pursuit of excellence providing their impetus through often harrowing shifts in the cultural landscape.
‘It is a highly suspenseful drama… measured, intoxicating and tragic.’ – The Financial Times
The Man Booker Dozen 2016 is Served
No event in the literary calendar carries the weight or literary intrigue as the Man Booker Prize. Since its inception back in 1969, what was originally known as the Booker–McConnell Prize has courted prestige and controversy in sometimes equal measure and its list of winners reads as a map to the stars of international fiction.
In this its 48th year, a healthy mix of the established (including one two-time Booker winner) and those new to the fray pave the way toward a fascinating summer of reading. In the words of our fiction buyer Chris White, ‘'I couldn't argue with the inclusion of any of the books I've read and that makes me all the more eager to read the others. I can't wait to see what appears on the shortlist. There's a special place in my heart for My Name is Lucy Barton but the field seems more open than ever and I wouldn't be surprised to see any of these novels make the final cut.’
The 2015 Winner is A Brief History of Seven Killings
Diversity is a bendy word – it has to be, to accommodate such variety. And it turns out that the English language is more diverse - more elastic- than previously imagined. Marlon James, the winner of this year’s Man Booker Prize, has tested that elasticity to its limit – and then shown us that limit is in fact the centre for some.
His winning novel, A Brief History of Seven Killings, is a hymn to reclaiming language, to authenticity and to identity. It takes the traditional form of The English Novel and blows it open - takes old familiar words and animates them with vibrant, Jamaican rhythms.
A Brief History of Seven Killings, is a soaring, blistering read. It comprises multiple narrators and weaves reggae and patois, high and low, life and death to create a truly unique representation of violence in Jamaica.
The book is polyvalent, bold and vivacious – and arguably, it is as much about voice and cadence as it is about crime and violence.
The Man Booker Prize finalists were, arguably, the most diverse the prize has ever seen, this year. For the first time, it could be said that this English language prize suggested the full spectrum of English dialects.
As Michael Wood, the chairman of the judges, said in his speech at the presentation ceremony, when you read A Brief History of Seven Killings, more than anything else, you will think: I didn’t know a novelist could do that.