He was the only non-Brit on this year’s shortlist. He had won the prize twice before. He has a reputation for being reclusive, which he confirmed by not pitching up at the lavish awards banquet. It’s impossible to know whether he cares that he didn’t win, but the chances are he’s not all that devastated this morning.
JM Coetzee’s failure to secure the Man Booker Prize for a record third time – he won with Life & Times of Michael K in 1983 and again with Disgrace in 1999 – should not detract from his status as one of the greatest writers alive. The Nobel laureate’s standing is unassailable almost everywhere but the land of his birth, where soon after the publication of Disgrace he was branded a racist by the ruling ANC. (He has since given up Cape Town for Adelaide, Australia, but surely now realises that it’s also the fate of banks to be branded racist, so perhaps he’ll come home soon.)
In the event, the 2009 Booker went to Hilary Mantel’s Wolf Hall, the 8/13 bookie’s favourite and the title that attracted at least 80 percent of the betting. A 650-page novel based on the life of Thomas Cromwell, advisor to King Henry VIII, Wolf Hall has garnered the sort of popular and critical acclaim that saw it marked as a potential winner from the time it first appeared on shelves.
Aside from Coetzee’s Summertime, the third in a series of fictionalised memoirs that began with Boyhood (1997) and Youth (2002), the other also-rans on this year’s shortlist were Simon Mawer’s The Glass Room, AS Byatt’s The Children’s Book, Adam Foulds’s The Glass Maze, and The Little Stranger by Sarah Waters.
Support DAILY MAVERICK & get FREE UBER vouchers every month
An increasingly rare commodity, quality independent journalism costs money, though not nearly as much as its absence can cost global community. No country can live and prosper without truth - that's why it matters.
Every Daily Maverick article and every Scorpio exposé is proof of our dedication to this unshakeable mission. Investing in our news media is by far the most effective investment into South Africa's future.
You can support Independent and Investigative journalism by joining Maverick Insider. If you contribute R150 or more per month you will receive R100 back in UBER vouchers. EVERY MONTH until October 2019.
So, if you'd like to help and do something meaningful for yourself and your country, then sign up to become a Maverick Insider. Together we can Defend Truth.
Elon Musk has specifically written into their spacesuit designers' contract that they "must look badass".