Booker Prize 2022: Sri Lankan author Shehan Karunatilaka wins for Maali Almeida’s novel Seven Moons

Sri Lankan author Shehan Karunatilaka won the 2022 Book Award for her novel The Seven Moons of Maali Almeida.

His writer was praised by the judges for the “range and skill, boldness, boldness and fun” of his second novel.

Irish author Claire Keegan is one of six authors shortlisted for the coveted award with her novel Little things like this.

The 116-page novel is the shortest book ever recognized in the history of the award.

Wicklow author Audrey Magee has been shortlisted for the coveted award for her second novel Colony.

However, at an awards ceremony in London this evening, it was time for Mr Karunatilaka to shine as he was presented with the 2022 Booker Prize.

The book, published by independent press Sort of Books, is a dark murder mystery manga set in Colombo in 1990 during the Sri Lankan Civil War.

It follows Maali Almeida, a war photographer, gambler and homosexual as he tries to find out who killed him in the seven moons.

Accepting the award, Karunatilaka called the shortlist “spectacular” and said it was “an honor and privilege” to be nominated.

“I am a fan of all your books and your fans,” he said.

“And it doesn’t make sense to cliché, we’re all winners for being part of this great shortlist, maybe I can pocket some extra cash if that’s okay?”

He thanked his publishers for taking on his “strange and difficult and strange” book, and his first-time readers for “too many messy, horror drafts” terrible”.

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Mr. Karunatilaka added: “My hope for the Seven Moons is this; that in the not-too-distant future, a period of 10 years, SriLanka… has understood that these ideas of corruption, racism and cronyism have not worked and will never work.

“I hope it will be in print in 10 years but if it does, I hope it is written in (a) Sri Lanka learns from its stories, and Seven Moons will be in the fantasy section of the bookstore… besides dragons, unicorns (and) will not be confused with realism or political satire”.

Mr. Karunatilaka, who was born in Galle and raised in Colombo, has said that Sri Lankans “specialize in hanging humor and making jokes in the face of crisis”.

“It’s our coping mechanism,” he said.

“It takes luck to make it to any long list… for a novel about Sri Lanka’s turbulent past to come out just as the world is watching Sri Lanka’s turbulent present also requires alignment. of dark forces.

“Unlike my protagonist Maali Almeida, I don’t gamble. So I don’t expect to throw two more sixs, although I would scream with joy if I did. “

This year marks the first time Mr. Karunatilaka has been shortlisted for the award, although his 2011 debut book, Chinaman, took home the Commonwealth Book Prize, the DSL Prize and the Gratiaen Prize.

The 47-year-old follows Sri Lankan-born author Michael Ondaatje, who won the 1992 British Patient Book and the award’s 50th Anniversary Gold Book in 2018.

British art historian Neil MacGregor, chair of the 2022 jury, described Karunatilaka’s book as “a book about the afterlife that blurs the boundaries not only of different genres, but also of life and death, body and spirit, east and west”.

“It is a book that takes the author on a roller coaster journey through life and death, true to what the author describes as the dark heart of the world and where the reader marvels. find their joy, tenderness, love and loyalty,” he said.

As well as Mr MacGregor, the jury included scholar and broadcaster Shahidha Bari, historian Helen Castor, novelist and critic M John Harrison and novelist, poet and professor Alain Mabanckou.

Mr Karunatilaka was announced as the award winner in a ceremony broadcast on BBC Radio 4 and BBC News Channel on Monday and presented with the trophy by the Queen Consort.

He was also given £50,000 by last year’s winner Damon Galgut, as well as a tailored edition of his book.

Around £2,500 was awarded to each of the shortlisted authors. They are NoViolet Bulawayo cho gloryPercival Everett for The treesClaire Keegan cho Little things like thisElizabeth Strout for Oh William!and Alan Garner for Treacle Walker.

Strout was unable to attend the ceremony due to illness, and Garner attended almost exclusively from Cheshire, where he was celebrating his 88th birthday.

Mr MacGregor added that upon reading the final books, “it became clear that, although at first they appeared to be very diverse, from civil war in Sri Lanka to private fantasies of childhood in Cheshire, they all really revolve around one question.

“That is, ‘what is the importance of personal life?'”

He said that “what stands out in all of them is the weight of history” that reflects our tumultuous times.

He added: “There are times of great uncertainty everywhere there is structure in question.

“What all these books reaffirm… is the importance of the long term and we need to think about that.”

Mr Karunatilaka was also given special help to allow him to attend the awards ceremony in London, which Booker had done before.

Singer-songwriter Dua Lipa delivered a keynote speech while comedian Sophie Duker hosted the event.

Dua Lipa credited Ismail Kadare, who won the first International Bookstore Award, for testing her language skills “while helping me connect with my family’s heritage and identity with as Albanians in Kosovan”.

She added: “I often wonder if the authors realize how many gifts they give us.

“Touring commitments take me all over the world and life is often hectic.

“Sometimes, just to survive, I need to adopt a tough exterior. And at these times, the policy has softened my heart.”

Lipa then led the audience in a performance of Happy Birthday to Garner.

When asked if Dua Lipa’s appearance was trying to reach a younger audience, Gaby Wood, director of the Booker Prize Foundation, said: “Our sense is that the Booker Prize is a way of life and … you need to make sure and try to make sure people think it’s for them. “

Mr MacGregor and the other judges will explore the novel further in Fantasy World, which will air on Tuesdays on BBC Radio 4 at 4pm.

South African novelist Galgut, 57, won the 2021 Booker Prize for Fiction with Promise.

First awarded in 1969, the Booker is open to writers of any nationality whose work is written in English and published in the United Kingdom or Ireland.

With report from PA. Booker Prize 2022: Sri Lankan author Shehan Karunatilaka wins for Maali Almeida’s novel Seven Moons

Fry Electronics Team

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