Thursday, June 28, 2007

James Tait Black Shortlists

The shortlists for the James Tait Black, Britain's oldest literary award have been announced. The contenders for the fiction prize are:
  • The View from Castle Rock by Alice Munro
  • The Night Watch by Sarah Waters
  • The Road by Cormac McCarthy
  • Seven Lies by James Lasdun
  • Half of a Yellow Sun by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
  • Electricity by Ray Robinson
There are some very strong contenders: Orange winner Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, as well as Pulitzer winner Cormac McCarthy and Booker shortlisted Sarah Walters.

But the shortlist also spotlights other excellent works which have slipped a little more below the radar (well my radar at least!): The View from Castle Rock is a collection of stories by Canadian author Alice Munro: in the first part of the book they are based on material Munro uncovered when researching her own family history in Scotland, and in the second, they are based on more autobiographical material. (I've much enjoyed some of Munro's earlier stories - she has to be one of the best short-fiction writers alive.)

Dina will be very happy to see her friend and former coursemate Ray Robinson, on the list! (The only debut novelist on it.) Electricity, written as part of his PhD in creative writing features a protagonist who is epileptic but refuses the label. (On the Lancaster University website, Robinson describes his research and talks about working on his writing in an academic environment.)

Seven Lies is James Lasdun's second novel, and is a thriller set in Berlin and New York. The blurb on the award website describes it as:
... a page-turning study of betrayal, guilt and shame with just enough allegory about it to keep America’s National Security State in unsettling focus.
(I can see my friend Kaykay getting all excited about this one!)

You can read more about all the shortlisted fiction, as well as the books listed for the The James Tait Black award for biography here, and in the Guardian.


KayKay said...

7 Lies sounds tantalising indeed Sharon. As if my book shelves weren't already groaning with the collective weight of numerous works on crime and violence housed within it! 'Tis truly a repository of evil! Mwahahahahahahaha!

Argus Lou said...

Yay, Alice Munro! One of my favourites too. She observes human nature, especially couple dynamics, astutely.