Shehan Karunatilaka wins 2022 Booker Prize


(LONDON)—Writer Shehan Karunatilaka won the prestigious Booker Prize for fiction on Monday for The seven moons of Maali Almeidaa satirical “black from beyond” set during Sri Lanka’s brutal civil war.

Karunatilaka, one of Sri Lanka’s leading authors, won the £50,000 ($57,000) prize for his second novel. The 47-year-old, who has also written journalism, children’s books, screenplays and rock songs, is the second Sri Lankan-born Booker Prize winner, after Michael Ondaatje, who won the trophy in 1992 for The English Patient.

Karunatilaka received the award from Camilla, Britain’s Queen Consort, in a ceremony at the Roundhouse concert hall in London.

The unanimous choice of the judges, The seven moons of Maali Almeida is the dark and humorous story of a deceased war photographer investigating his death and trying to secure his life’s legacy.

Former British Museum director Neil MacGregor, who chaired the jury, said the judges chose the book for “the ambition, the scope and the competence, the audacity, the audacity and the hilarity of execution”.

“It’s a book that takes the reader on a roller coaster ride through life and death, until what the author describes as the dark heart of the world,” MacGregor said. “And there the reader finds to his great surprise, joy, tenderness, love and fidelity.”

The winner was chosen from five other finalists: American authors Percival Everett for Trees and Elizabeth Strout for Oh William!; Glory by NoViolet Bulawayo from Zimbabwe; Irish writer Claire Keegan Little things like these; and Molasses walker by British writer Alan Garner.

The five-member jury read 170 novels before choosing a winner. MacGregor said all of the books explored the actions of individuals in a world “where fixed points move, disintegrate”.

He said ‘what is striking about each is the weight of history’ – from the legacy of racism in the US to colonialism and repression in Zimbabwe – and how that shapes choices and the actions of individuals.

“The story as a player in contemporary politics is, I think, one of the things that comes out of most of the shortlisted books,” MacGregor said. “Which is hardly surprising, given current debates over history.”

“All of these books show why it (history) needs to be taught, approached and discussed, because otherwise we cannot understand the framework in which people have to make the big choices, the essential choices in their lives,” he said. -he declares. .

Founded in 1969, the Booker Prize has a reputation for transforming the careers of writers. It was originally open to British, Irish and Commonwealth writers, but eligibility was extended in 2014 to all English-language novels published in the UK.

Last year’s winner was The promise by South African Damon Galgut.

The event was the first fully in-person Booker ceremony since the pre-pandemic event in 2019 and the first for longtime literacy champion Camilla since her husband became King Charles III last month following the death of his mother Queen Elizabeth II.

The event also included a speech by singer-songwriter Dua Lipa on her love of reading and a reflection by writer Elif Shafak on what the attack on novelist Salman Rushdie, who was stabbed on stage in August means for writers around the world.

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