The Man Booker 2015 Winner is Marlon James!

Marlon James is the first author from Jamaica to win the Man Booker Prize.  - peoplewhowrite

Marlon James is the first author from Jamaica to win the Man Booker Prize.

UPDATE: Marlon James’ A Brief History of Seven Killings has earned the Man Booker Prize 2015, a first for a Jamaican novelist, and the first for indie publisher Oneworld Publications. Michael Wood, who chaired the panel of judges, said of the 686-page book that featured 75 characters, “It is a crime novel that moves beyond the world of crime and takes us deep into a recent history we know far too little about. It moves at a terrific pace and will come to be seen as a classic of our times.” James wins £52,500 — £50,000 for earning the prize and £2,500 for making the shortlist — as well as a trophy and designer bound edition of his book.

Richard Flanagan won the Man Booker Prize 2014 with his novel The Narrow Road to the Deep North.

UPDATE: The Man Booker 2015 shortlist, announced today, includes:
Marlon James’ A Brief History of Seven Killings
Tom McCarthy’s Satin Island
Chigozie Obioma’s The Fishermen
Sunjeev Sahota’s The Year of the Runaways 
Anne Tyler’s A Spool of Blue Thread
Hanya Yanagihara’s A Little Life

The website announcement notes:

Tom McCarthy is the only shortlisted author to have been nominated before, having been shortlisted for C in 2010.

Marlon James is the first Jamaican-born author to be shortlisted for the prize. Chigozie Obioma is the second Nigerian to be nominated, after Ben Okri. Of the six authors, two are resident in the UK and four in the United States.

At 28, Chigozie Obioma is the youngest of this year’s shortlisted authors, the same age as 2013 winner Eleanor Catton.

Two independent publishers make it to the shortlist: Oneworld Publications and ONE, an imprint of Pushkin Press. Penguin Random House have two authors on the list (from their Jonathan Cape and Chatto & Windus imprints), as does Picador, an imprint of Pan Macmillan.

Read the full announcement here.

Five judges–Ellah Wakatama Allfrey, John Burnside, Sam Leith, and Frances Osborne–chaired by Michael Wood, have culled 156 books in consideration for the 2015 Man Booker Prize, to 13. The diverse longlist for the £50,000 2015 Prize, not to be confused with the Man Booker International Prize, boasts an author each from India, Ireland, Jamaica, Nigeria, and New Zealand, in addition to five Americans, and three Brits.

The longlist includes the debut novel of New York-based literary agent Bill Clegg, and the third novel and 2015 Pulitzer Prize Finalist by Laila Lalami. It also nods to 2007 Man Booker Prizewinner Anne Enright, 1983 Pulitzer Prize and the PEN/Faulkner Award Finalist Anne Tyler, and Marlon James. New York Times critic Michiko Kakutani called James’ lauded third novel, A Brief History of Seven Killings, “monumental”. Chigozie Obioma‘s debut novel The Fishermen, released in February, and also on the list,  is racking up major acknowledgments including the inaugural FT/Oppenheimer Award, The Center for Fiction First Novel Prize, and the New York Times Editor’s Choice.

The abovementioned authors contend with the formidable and celebrated talents Tom McCarthy, Anuradha Roy, Sunjeev Sahota, Anna Smaill, Hanya Yanagihara, and Marilynne Robinson.

The full list is below:

Bill Clegg’s Did You Ever Have a Family
Anne Enright’s The Green Road
Marlon James’ A Brief History of Seven Killings
Laila Lalami’s The Moor’s Account
Tom McCarthy’s Satin Island
Chigozie Obioma’s The Fishermen
Andrew O’Hagan’s The Illuminations
Marilynne Robinson’s Lila
Anuradha Roy’s Sleeping on Jupiter
Sunjeev Sahota’s The Year of the Runaways
Anna Smaill’s The Chimes
Anne Tyler’s A Spool of Blue Thread
Hanya Yanagihara’s A Little Life

Six of the 13 books will be selected for the Prize’s shortlist on September 15, 2015 and each shortlisted author will receive £2,500 and a specially bound edition of their book. The winner, announced on October 13, 2015, will receive an additional £50,000.

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How Would You Rewrite Your Existing Character or Published Story?

All the dismay expressed about the flawed, racist Atticus Finch character in Harper Lee’s Go Set A Watchman, versus the saintly Civil Rights attorney and crusader Atticus was in To Kill a Mockingbird, has me thinking about Zadie Smith’s popular quote about redlining her published novel to rid it of “every redundant phrase, each show-off, pointless metaphor” just before reading from it at an event. As writers, we know the work is never really “finished”, but if we had the chance to publish a new version of a story we’ve already released into the world, would we do it?

If you could, how would you rewrite your characters or story?

Would you revisit an earlier edit, more true to the version you originally wanted to publish, as Lee did? We know that Lee wrote Watchman before Mockingbird, but the editor she submitted it to in 1957 advised her to shift the focus. Lee has admitted of the resulting edit that went on to sell 30 million copies, “I was a first-time writer, so I did as I was told.” Watchman was published unedited, released on July 14, 2015.

Would you change the work to reflect your personal evolution or new information about the topic acquired over time? Elizabeth Gilbert didn’t rewrite her post-divorce memoir Eat, Pray, Love, but after remarrying, her book Committed reflects a new perspective on the institution of marriage.

Would you, like E.L. James recently did with her Fifty Shades spinoff Grey, give a supporting character the protagonist treatment?

Would you rerelease your work exactly as is because the times call for rethinking the themes you explored? To Kill a Mockingbird was released July 11, 1960, just three weeks shy of the day Nation of Islam leader Elijah Muhammad called for a black state; five years after white assailants Roy Bryant and J. W. Milam were acquitted in a nationally publicized trial for the murder of 14 year old black teen Emmett Till whom they later admitted to beating, mutilating, shooting dead, and dumping in Mississippi’s Tallahatchie River. Go Set a Watchman hit bookstores one day after Sandra Bland, a black woman and vocal advocate of the #BlackLivesMatter movement, was found dead in a Texas jail cell due to a disputed suicide, after being pulled over by an aggressive white police officer and subsequently detained.

Or would you just tighten the language, cutting those redundant / show-off / pointless phrases you were too close to the text to notice before?

If I could, I think I would do most, if not all, of the above.