<i>Bookermania</i>: 45 Years of the Man Booker Prize at The Morgan This Fall
New York, NY, August 22, 2013—England’s Man Booker Prize turned Possession into an instant best seller, propelled The English Patient and Life of Pi onto the screen, and made a star out of an advertising copywriter named Salman Rushdie. Throughout its history, it has been a dynamic force in marketing literary fiction, while drawing attention to questions about the critical, popular, and economic influences that shape cultural value and confer prestige. Given annually since 1969 to the “best novel in English” written by a citizen of the Commonwealth of Nations, Republic of Ireland, or Zimbabwe, the prize is now the prototype for literary awards around the world. Never without controversy or a chorus of detractors, the Booker has uniquely captured the British imagination and has helped shape a contemporary canon that reflects the expanded borders of the English-language novel today. Bookermania: 45 Years of the Man Booker Prize, on view September 13, 2013-January 5, 2014, is the first American exhibition to explore the world of this award and how it came to take its place in England’s colorful history of promoting the novel.
Works on view in Bookermania are drawn entirely from the Morgan’s Man Booker Prize collection—a singular archive of more than four thousand items that preserves the convergence of collaborative forces at play in the world of authors, publishing, the book trade, and critical establishment that have made the Booker one of the world’s premiere literary awards. On bookshelves around the gallery, a chronological display of every Booker-winning novel and noted contenders narrates important developments in the prize from 1969 to 2012. Transformations in typography, illustration, and book design over more than four decades of contemporary fiction are documented through an array of dust jackets and related artwork. Also on view are some of the unique artifacts in the collection in the form of proofs, manuscripts, annotated judges’ copies, authors’ correspondence, and publishers’ promotional material that explore key figures and important issues surrounding the prize.
Judges, Writers, Publishers, and Controversies
The objects on view offer insights into the writers, judges, and the memorable controversies associated with the prize. Judging notebooks belonging to critics John Sutherland and Ruth Scurr and books annotated by Rick Gekoski, David Daiches, Hermione Lee, and Robert Macfarlane record their idiosyncratic reactions to some of the most important works of postwar fiction. Letters from noted authors such as Kingsley Amis, Iris Murdoch, John Berger, A. S. Byatt, John Banville, and Hilary Mantel’s annotated copy of Wolf Hall provide humorous, thoughtful, and provocative responses to the prize and to their own works, while manuscripts, corrected galleys, and publisher’s promotional materials document the life of a Booker book and how it has been created, distributed, and promoted at particular moments in time.
The Morgan’s Man Booker Prize Collection
The mania in the exhibition’s title refers not only to the British enthusiasm for its highest literary award but also to the bibliomania reflected in the archive that is the foundation of the Morgan’s Man Booker Prize collection. Acquired by the museum in 2010 as a joint acquisition between the departments of Printed Books and Bindings and Literary and Historical Manuscripts, it comprises more than four thousand items including manuscripts, proofs, first editions, reprints, letters, association copies, judges’ annotations, artworks, translations, bespoke bindings, and ephemeral materials related to the finest works of literary fiction published in England. The collection was assembled over several decades by Peter Straus—a British literary agent, publisher, and bibliophile, who has served on the prize’s management committee and has been called its unofficial bibliographer. Straus’s energetic collecting and his attention to the minutiae of “all things Booker” have earned the archive Iain Sinclair’s description as “a museum of madness.”
History of the Booker
The prize was founded in 1968 to encourage reading and jolt the British book trade out of its lingering postwar recession. Its success is largely due to the men whose professions and personalities who defined its original mission: Tom Maschler of the Publishers’ Association, Martyn Goff of the National Book League, and George Hardinge and John Murphy from the Authors’ Division of the agricultural company Booker McConnell. In 2002, the investment management firm Man assumed sponsorship and the administration of the award passed to the Booker Prize Foundation, chaired by Jonathan Taylor and under the Literary Direction of Ion Trewin.
Each year, the management committee selects a panel of five jurors—critics, academics, novelists and a “general reader”—to consider the more than 120 novels vying for the prize. Extensive deliberations result in a longlist, announced in July, which is further narrowed down to a shortlist of five or six finalists in September. The winner is announced at a nationally televised ceremony in mid-October. The first winning novel in 1969 was P. H. Newby’s Something to Answer For. In 2012, Hilary Mantel won the award for Bring Up the Bodies.
Bookermania: 45 Years of the Man Booker Prize
Friday, September 20, 6:30 pm
An informal tour with exhibition curator Sheelagh Bevan.
Free with museum admission
Prized Writers: An Evening with Peter Carey and Colm Tóibín
Tuesday, November 12, 6:30 pm*
To coincide with the exhibition Bookermania: 45 Years of the Man Booker Prize, the Morgan presents an evening of readings by acclaimed authors Peter Carey (Oscar and Lucinda, The Chemistry of Tears) and Colm Tóibín (The Master, The Testament of Mary), followed by a conversation moderated by Ion Trewin, Literary Director of the Booker Prize Foundation. Bookermania will be open at 5:30 pm especially for program attendees.
$15; $10 for Members
www.themorgan.org/programs; 212-685-0008 x560
FICTION ON FILM
To coincide with the exhibition, the Morgan presents two screen adaptations of novels by Booker Prize-winning authors.
Oscar and Lucinda
Friday, September 27, 7 pm
(1997, 132 minutes)
Director: Gillian Armstrong
An unlikely pair of gamblers meet on a voyage from England to Australia. Lucinda Leplastrier, a young heiress, bets Oscar Hopkins, an Anglican priest, that he cannot transport a glass church from Sydney to an Outback settlement. This wager changes their lives forever. Based on Australian author Peter Carey’s novel, which won the 1988 Booker Prize, the film stars Cate Blanchett and Ralph Fiennes.
Free with museum admission
Never Let Me Go
Friday, October 4, 7 pm
(2010, 103 minutes)
Director: Mark Romanek
Now an adult, Kathy recalls her sheltered childhood at Hailsham House, an eerily-idyllic boarding school in the English countryside where she first met lifelong friends Tommy and Ruth. Only upon leaving the school do they begin to understand their unconventional upbringing and come to a startling discovery about themselves. Based on Kazuo Ishiguro’s 2005 shortlisted novel, featuring Carey Mulligan, Andrew Garfield, and Keira Knightley.
Free with museum admission
ORGANIZATION AND SPONSORSHIP
Bookermania: 45 Years of the Man Booker Prize is organized by Sheelagh Bevan, Andrew W. Mellon Assistant Curator in the Morgan’s Department of Printed Books and Bindings.
Sponsored by Man.
Additional support provided by the Ricciardi Family Exhibition Fund and by The Booker Prize Foundation.
The programs of the Morgan Library & Museum are made possible with public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council, and by the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew Cuomo and the New York State Legislature.
The Morgan Library & Museum
The Morgan Library & Museum began as the private library of financier Pierpont Morgan, one of the preeminent collectors and cultural benefactors in the United States. Today, more than a century after its founding in 1906, the Morgan serves as a museum, independent research library, musical venue, architectural landmark, and historic site. In October 2010, the Morgan completed the first-ever restoration of its original McKim building, Pierpont Morgan’s private library, and the core of the institution. In tandem with the 2006 expansion project by architect Renzo Piano, the Morgan now provides visitors unprecedented access to its world-renowned collections of drawings, literary and historical manuscripts, musical scores, medieval and Renaissance manuscripts, printed books, and ancient Near Eastern seals and tablets.
The Morgan Library & Museum
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