Val McDermid on What It’s Like Judging the Man Booker Prize – Q & A
LONDON — On the morning of Oct. 16, five judges will meet in a secret location here to decide the winner of the Man Booker Prize, one of the world’s most prestigious literary awards.
They will have about eight hours to pick a winner from the six-strong shortlist, which includes Rachel Kushner’s “The Mars Room” and Esi Edugyan’s “Washington Black.” But the five — philosopher Kwame Anthony Appiah, crime writer Val McDermid, cultural critic Leo Robson, feminist writer Jacqueline Rose and graphic novelist Leanne Shapton — will have actually read 171 books over the last seven months to make their choice.
“We are paid, yes,” said Ms. McDermid when asked if she was compensated for such time-consuming work. “If you add up all the hours, I think it works out below minimum wage,” she added.
Why did she accept the offer to be a judge? For a simple reason: “Everyone said to me, ‘You have to do this. It’s an honor and you’ll enjoy it.’ They were right.”
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Waterstones has backtracked on plans to open one of its new unbranded stores in a district of Edinburgh that is already home to an independent bookshop – following an outcry that included criticism from figures including the Scottish novelist Val McDermid.
A shop will be opened in the Stockbridge area of the city but it will be clearly branded as Waterstones, according to the company’s managing director, James Daunt, who admitted: “We messed up.”