October brings the 2017 Man Booker prize awards after the short list of the six novels was announced in September. By chance, when the long list came out earlier, I heard an interview on the radio with Fiona Mozley, a young first time novelist whose book, ELMET, I bought a few days later. Good news when, against many expectations, Elmet was one of the six short listed.
The word Elmet meant nothing to me. The book explains, quoting Ted Hughes, ‘Elmet was the last independent Celtic Kingdom in England and originally stretched out over the Vale of York.’ Since buying the book I keep coming across the name – there is even an MP for Elmet and…
The tale is one of our time focusing on a family, well, a son, Daniel, and daughter, Cathy, and their ‘Daddy’, a man mixing moments of tenderness with a mean fighting lifestyle, essential to his survival.
Every year the Yeovil Community Arts Association holds a lively debate (this year on Thursday 5th October in The Johnson Studio at The Octagon Theatre, Yeovil) with advocates arguing the merits, or on occasion the failings, of each of the six finalists. On occasion the subsequent vote of those attending is in line with the that of Man Booker judges.
The six on the short list are: 4 3 2 1 by Paul Auster (Faber & Faber), HISTORY OF WOLVES by Emily Fridlund (Weidenfeld & Nicholson, Orion Books), EXIT WEST by Moshin Hamid (Hamish Hamilton, Penguin Random House), ELMET by Fiona Mozley (JM Originals, John Murray), LINCOLN IN THE BARDO, George Saunders (Bloomsbury Publishing) and AUTUMN by Ali Smith (Hamish Hamilton, Penguin Random House).
Several long listed ‘names’ didn’t make the cut. Will Elmet succeed? It might just do it.