About two months ago, I got the opportunity through my school to go into London and join in with an event run by Reading Hack where a group of us were going to interview Jon Day, who was one of the judges for the Man Booker Prize.
I hadn’t heard much about the Man Booker Prize, as mainly I read YA, and if I do branch out it’s into classics – adult literature is not really on my radar. So obviously the first thing I did to prepare was research the prize itself, and the shortlist. I also picked up a copy of Hot Milk by Deborah Levy from my school library, and made a start on reading that. While I didn’t manage to finish it before the interview, I did get about halfway through, and I finished it the week after.
The other thing I did to prepare was consult with a couple of friends who were also attending and brainstorm questions to ask Jon. However, while we did ask a lot of these questions, during the event there was some degree of following the flow of the interview and asking questions we hadn’t thought of before that had just sprung to mind.
The two questions that, for me, were most interesting to hear the answers to were Jon’s favourite book and his opinions on YA. He was decisive in choosing Ulysses, and had some positive opinions to share on YA – I was really pleased that he didn’t address YA as an inferior genre, because I feel like this is a common portrayal, when the genre actually has a lot to offer to the world of literature.
Overall, it was such a wonderful experience; I felt really engaged, and the hour we had to do the interview absolutely flew by! The interview also helped to broaden what I knew of the world of adult fiction, as it definitely pointed out to me some novels I am now interested to read which wouldn’t be my normal choices. It was fascinating to hear about the process of being a judge for the Man Booker Prize as well, and it definitely sounds like a lot of work – they had to read around a book a day, and commit to doing so, on top of ordinary life, which is something I don’t know if I’d ever be able to do, so I think this seems like a great achievement as well.
The reason I’m writing this now (and didn’t write it just after the event) is that I won a set of the books from the Reading Hack group, so I shall be reading my way through the shortlist very soon – a picture will be added to this post as soon as they’ve arrived so I can showcase the books!
The winner was The Sellout by Paul Beatty, but I want to read them all and form my own opinion about which I like best. I also want to say a big thank you to the people at Reading Hack for organising such a fun and enjoyable event. You can read their write up of the interview here (I also got the photos for this post from the Reading Hack site, so all photo credit goes to them!).