The 2013 Man Booker Prize was held last night in London. To celebrate this years City of Culture and as part of NI Libraries Festival of Words, Derry's Central Library hosted it's own panel for last night's award!
The Derry panel consisted of Anita Robinson (Author and Broadcaster), Jenni Doherty (Poet and propietor of Little Acorns Bookstore, Derry), Brain McGilloway (Author and Head of English at St. Columbs College) and chaired by Liam Browne.
The panel discussed the 6 shortlisted books for the prize which included, 'The Luminaries' by Elanor Catton; 'We Need New Names' by Noviolet Bulawayo; 'Harvest' by Jim Crace; 'The Lowland' by Jhumpa Lahiri; 'A Tale for the Time Being' by Ruth Ozeki and 'The Testament of Mary' by Colm Tobin.
A large audience attended the event and participation from the members made the discussion most interesting. It made for a rather entertaining night with the different viewpoints of the panel members and then at times very similar points made in relation to each shortlisted work!
'The Luminaries' is a book of 800+ pages and was described by the Derry panel as an 'extraordinarily structural book' and yet its characters just didn't have 'a linear connection, but rather a cris cross connection and the story gathers slow momentum'. The final words on it were that it would be a 'desert island book as that's the only time you'd have time to read it'. Little did the Derry panel expect this work to win the prize when announced live from London just before 10pm!
If the Derry panel were to have the final vote 'Harvest' by Jim Crace would most certainly have won. They each highly recommended this work as a 'must for all to read'. Anita Robinson went so far as to say it is 'the perfect book'. Jenni Doherty commented that it was 'possibly the best book I've ever read'. McGilloway described it as 'a beautiful book'.
The Derry audience were all talking afterwards how they are looking forward to buying and borrowing 'The Harvest' and reading. Unfortunately no one from Derry was going to be rushing out to purchase or borrow 'The Luminaries'!!