For her novel How to Be Both, Ali Smith has won the 2014 Goldsmiths Prize. Judges Geoff Dyer, Tom Gatti, Kirsty Gunn, and Francis Spufford selected the title which had been in contention with Outline by Rachel Cusk, The Absent Therapist by Will Eaves, J by Howard Jacobson The Wake by Paul Kingsnorth, and In The Light of What We Know by Zia Haider Rahm. The prize comes with a £10,000 award.
Richard Flanagan’s The Narrow Road to the Deep North beat out To Rise Again at a Decent Hour by Joshua Ferris, We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves by Karen Joy Fowler, J by Howard Jacobson, The Lives of Others by Neel Mukherjee, and How to be Both by Ali Smith to win the 2014 Man Booker Prize, worth £50,000. According to BBC.com, the chair of judges AC Grayling said he and his fellow jurors debated for three hours before reaching a majority decision. “The two great themes from the origin of literature are love and war: this is a magnificent novel of love and war,” Grayling said.
The Narrow Road to the Deep North, Flanagan’s sixth novel, is inspired by Flanagan’s father. A Japanese prisoner of war in the 1940s, the elder Flanagan was forced to help build the Death Railway between Bangkok, Thailand and Rangoon, Burma in 1943 to support Japanese forces. Over 100,000 people died in construction of the railway.
“He trusted me, he never asked me what the story was,” Flanagan told the BBC. The book took him 12 years to finish. “But I did talk to him often about very small things. What the mud was like, what the smell of a rotting tropical ulcer that had eaten through to the shin bone exactly was. What a tiny ball of sour rice would taste like when you’re starving, what starvation felt like in your belly and your brain.”
The day he finished the novel, Flanagan’s father, 98, died.
This was the first year the Man Booker Prize was open to English Language writers outside the Commonwealth. The Tasmania-born author remarked “In Australia the Man Booker is sometimes seen as something of a chicken raffle. I just didn’t expect to end up the chicken.”
The six contenders for the second annual Goldsmiths Prize include a debut title that was crowd-funded (Paul Kingsnorth’s The Wake), two novels shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize (Howard Jacobson’s J and Ali Smith’s How to Be Both), and one that was longlisted for the Guardian First Book Award 2014 (Zia Haider Rahman’s In the Light of What We Know). Costa, Whitbread and Somerset Maughm Award-winning author Rachel Cusk, whose latest book Outline is in Goldsmiths contention, isn’t too shabby either. Will Eaves, who has been shortlisted for a Whitbread Award, has also been recognized by Goldsmiths this year for his novel The Absent Therapist. In other words, it’s on:
Judges Geoff Dyer, Tom Gatti, Kirsty Gunn, and Francis Spufford will select the winner to be announced at Foyles bookshop in London on November 12, 2014, and receive a £10,000 award. 2014 Baileys Prizewinner Eimear McBride won the inaugural Goldsmiths Prize last year for her novel A Girl Is A Half-Formed Thing. McBride’s book has also been shortlisted for the 2014 Dylan Thomas Prize.
The 2014 Man Booker longlist has been whittled down from 13 to the six titles on the shortlist. 2014 is the first year authors of any title written in English are eligible–a change that was received with fear that Commonwealth writers would be edged out. Three Brits, two Americans, and one Australian made the cut under the new rules:
The 2014 Man Booker Longlist is here. For the first time, the prize is open to any title written in English (rather than just English and Commonwealth Writers); a change that was received with some grumbling for fear that future judges would privilege North American sensibilities. The longlist features six Britons, four Americans, two Irish writers, and one Australian: