Booklovers’ big week

The Man Booker and Nobel prizes announced this week will bring new audiences to two writers

Richard Flanagan, the author of The Narrow Road to the Deep North, has won Man Booker Prize. Alastair Grant / Getty Images
Powered by automated translation

This has been a big week for book lovers. First there was French author Patrick Modiano being awarded the Nobel Prize for literature for his novels, many of which are set during the Nazi occupation of France. And then the Man Booker Prize was won by Australian novelist Richard Flanagan for his sixth book, The Narrow Road to the Deep North.

Both warrant consideration, albeit for different reasons. The Nobel Prize tends to reflect a body of work rather than a specific book and only rarely is awarded to authors who write initially in English. The boon for anglophones is this will mean far more of Mr Modiano’s 30-odd titles will end up being published in English, introducing a new audience to the writer dubbed by some critics as the modern-day Marcel Proust.

The Man Booker prize, by contrast, is awarded to a single book in English. However Mr Flanagan’s winning novel was his sixth, which means book lovers will be able to trawl through a back catalogue that had hitherto not received the attention this award will bring it.

But questions linger about how these prize decisions are made and which winner will be remembered –and read – for the longest. Was there unanimity, or was the choice a compromise within the judging panel? It’s time to judge for ourselves.