Well, it happened at last! After months of preparation and planning, the celebrations for the 50th anniversary of the Man Booker Prize eventually came off!
Of our two flagship events, the first was the reception at Buckingham Palace, hosted by HRH the Duchess of Cornwall who has been a great supporter of the prize for many years. Buckingham Palace has 775 rooms in all, and we were in the largest and most imposing, the Ballroom. Apart from the Duchess, there were a number of previous Man Booker winners as well as the literary hot-set of the UK and beyond. 240 people in all.
The following day saw the launch of the Festival of Fiction at Southbank. Organised in partnership with Southbank, and two years in the planning, this was a one-off jamboree of some of the world’s most celebrated fiction writers coming together to discuss, agree, disagree, in celebration of the prize’s golden jubilee. It was a fabulous, lambent couple of days, peppered with serious discussion and trivial gossip. For example, I came out of an event with Ben Okri and bumped into Peter Straus, literary agent and the world’s walking authority on the prize. Peter told me that Caryl Phillips had come up with a brilliant anagram of Ben’s name. From now on, Ben will forever be Ken Biro.
One of the highlights of our celebrations was the Golden Man Booker – five former winning books which were read and shortlisted by five judges and then put to the public vote to determine the best of the best. At the event, Michael Ondaatje won for The English Patient. Michael had earlier described the process by which he writes as archaeological unearthing and, in accepting the award, said that he didn’t think it was the best book on the list!
No sooner has the dust settled on the Man Booker 50th celebrations that we are announcing the longlist for the 2018 Man Booker Prize for Fiction. As you’ll read from Alice, this long list has attracted more media interest than any I can ever remember. It includes, for the first time, a graphic novel, a crime novel and a novel in verse. Watch this space in the lead up to the shortlist announcement on 20 September. Read more here.
Still in the world of prizes, but at the other end of the spectrum, we were in the House of Commons this month awarding the annual PARC awards. These are awarded by our client PATROL – which stands for Parking and Traffic Regulations outside London – to recognise the work that councils do around the country. Learn more here.
Gyles Brandreth was our guest of honour. He may seem an unlikely choice but in fact his father, Charles Brandreth, was a specialist in this world and wrote the definitive book, Parking Law. As ever, Gyles was terrific value; he made the audience laugh but also reinforced to them how important is the work that they do. It’s not often that parking people get praised so he was a very popular choice!
Other high points of the month have been working with the Chineke! Foundation, a ground-breaking organisation which was established in 2015 to provide opportunities for young BME musicians; launching International Busking Day with music icon Nile Rodgers, on behalf of the client, Wembley Park, London’s newest creative district; and completing our campaign for New Vic Theatre’s Circus Past, Present and Future season in Newcastle-under-Lyme.
Have a great summer and do have a go at that Man Booker longlist. There’s something for everyone there.