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Arise, Sir Kazuo

Arise, Sir Kazuo

We doff our cap and bend the knee to the newly be-gonged Kazuo Ishiguro. As if the 1989 Man Booker winner's Nobel Prize wasn't enough, a knighthood has just been announced in the Queen's Birthday Honours List. The news led to some furrowed brows in various distant parts of the internet, with one worried poster asking: “If Kazuo Ishiguro is knighted, should he be addressed as Sir Kazuo or Sir Ishiguro? The point being that people of Japanese descent might place their first names after their last names.” Food for thought indeed. Meanwhile, Liz Calder, Bloomsbury co-founder, picked up a CBE, for services to literature. As editor and publisher she has overseen innumerable Man Booker winners, from Anita Brookner and Julian Barnes to Salman Rushdie and Michael Ondaatje.

Mike McCormack has also done well. Solar Bones, his one-sentence novel which was longlisted for last year's Man Booker Prize, has just won the €100,000 2018 Dublin International Literary Award, formerly known as the IMPAC Award. The novel's path to the Man Booker was not straightforward: initially published in McCormack's native Ireland in 2016, his publishers, Tramp Press, then partnered with Canongate in the UK to allow the book to be submitted for the Man Booker. Its longlisting helped fuel interest from around the world and it has subsequently been published in the US, France, Germany and Italy among others. This international profile undoubtedly helped with the DILA win since the prize is selected from nominations from libraries around the world. McCormack’s experience is also one of the factors that led to a rule change in early 2018, allowing Irish publishers to submit novels for the prize.

Another of the Man Booker class of 2017, the shortlisted Fiona Mozley, is also garnering further recognition. The author of Elmet has been nominated for the Somerset Maugham Award for writers of fiction, non-fiction and poetry under the age of 35, one of the Society of Authors awards. Meanwhile, Rick Gekoski, Man Booker judge in 2005 and chair of the 2011 Man Booker International judges, has been shortlisted for The McKitterick Prize, awarded to a first novel by a writer over 40 (though he doesn't look a day over 39). The winners will be announced on 19 July.

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Man Booker longlisted in 2004 with Purple Hibiscus, has just been awarded the 2018 PEN Pinter Award for a writer of “outstanding literary merit” who, in Harold Pinter's words, casts an “unflinching, unswerving” gaze upon the world and shows a “fierce intellectual determination. . .  to define the real truth of our lives and our societies”. Former winners include both Margaret Atwood and Salman Rushdie. Adichie will pick up her prize on 9 October at the British Library in London.

Marlon James, the 2015 Man Booker winner with A Brief History of Seven Killings (currently being adapted for the screen by Amazon), has given more details of his next, seemingly unlikely, project: a fantasy epic multi-parter, “Dark Star Trilogy” – which James likens to “an African Game of Thrones”. The first volume, Black Leopard, Red Wolf, is due 5 February 2019 from Riverhead Books, and follows a mercenary called Tracker as he is sent to look for a child who has been missing for three years. Other characters include a mysterious shape-shifting man/animal Leopard. The novel, says the publisher, “explores the fundamentals of truth, the limits of power, and our need to understand them both”. But it is also James's way of exploring the wealth of African myth and folklore.