The winner of the U.K.’s Man Booker Prize was announced today: Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel.
The winner will be announced November 18.
The NBA website says 193 publishers submitted 1,129 books for the 2009 awards and then breaks them down into the categories, as of August 13, 2009:
- 236 for fiction
- 481 for non-fiction
- 161 for poetry
- 251 for young people’s lit.
The National Book Award can be fun for the surprises that often make the list of nominees and the controversy that can unfold.
Last year questions flew about Peter Matthiessen’s Shadow Country. (It won for fiction.) In 2004, the nominees were virtually unknown and many booed and hissed. One critic called them “narrow-minded nominations.”
Also in the archives of NBA surprises is the 1987 winner Paco’s Story by Larry Heinemann over the favored Beloved by Toni Morrison. The literary community was stunned.
I studied with Heineman in graduate school while he was writing the winning novel. I wrote congratulations, and Larry responded in a long letter that described the awards dinner, including this:
“…I went not expecting anything at all, just a bit of recognition as a nominee, a very good dinner sitting next to my editor who I get to see very rarely, and a business meeting with my agent the next morning. But I’ll be damned if I didn’t win the thing, much to the consternatoin [sic] of the NY Times.”