The evening before the Booker prize was announced, my bookclub friends and I all met in Southbank (an event venue in London) to hear the nominees read an extract of their books and talk about why they wrote them and what the novel meant to them.
It was a fantastic evening, I especially liked the buzz in the air, the variety of stories and the uniqueness of the voices represented this year.
Each author lived in their own intensely interesting and passionate world and the voices were so different and diverse.
Seeing them in person inspired me to read Bernardine Evaristo's Girl, Woman, Other and my Book Club friends really liked the sound of Elif Shafak's 10 Minutes 38 Seconds. I was intrigued by Lucy Ellmann's Ducks, Newburyport and tried to pitch it at our next book club meeting but no one else wanted to read it due to its length :) lol.
It was also exciting to see Salman Rushdie who I grew up seeing as the figure of the modern author, bold and engaged in the world. Committed to his art to the point of risking his life for it.
Of course, the highlight for me was meeting my hero: Margaret Atwood. When I first arrived in Canada in the year 2000, I asked my colleagues what Canadian authors to read to get to know the country's soul and they recommended The Handmaid's Tale. I fell in love with her style, her quirky world and her powerful feminist voice. The Edible Woman made me a feminist and I read pretty much all her novels before she became an international super star!
Margaret Atwood is the reason I think that fiction can change someone's mind, she's the proof that an idea can seep through the pages of a story and touch your heart like no fact ever could. I read her words and saw the world differently.
So of course, as you've probably guessed, I queued for hours to get her autograph and I'm delighted to report that she signed my copy of The Testaments!
All in all, a fantastic evening :)
Now, on to read Ducks!