Because you can't have depths without surfaces.
Linda Grant, thinking about clothes, books and other matters.

Thursday, 11 September 2008

Books and frocks, my two favourite things.

I had been sitting on the knowledge of the Booker shortlisting since last Wednesday, unable to tell anyone but a few close friends. The Booker people let your publisher know in advance so they can organise reprints and have stock ready to go into the bookshops. To his credit, when I told Harry, his first question was: what are you going to wear. That boy gets more metrosexual by the minute. It will be manscara next.

One person I did let into my confidence was Anya Hindmarch who 'gifted' as the saying goes in fashion PR a gold clutch. Yay, Anya, thank you. Saturday was taken up with buying a dress for the grand party at the V&A on the night of the shortlist announcement. Eventually I got this from Jaeger which I had admired many times but always assumed it was the wrong shape for me. Two very bossy young German sales assistants insisted I tried it on, and - well, what do you know? So I succumbed to the matching necklace, too.

On Tuesday, at the hairdressers, I happened into L.K. Bennett, and found a pair of very high heels which were oddly quite comfortable. I'll not be previewing my October 14 wardrobe, but for the moment, I'm thinking of a MaxMara long dress I've only worn once, with something to cover the arms, as yet unbought.

More on all of this later.

Someone in the comments said that the Booker was only bettered by the Nobel, and I think that's probably true. It is the international literary prize that has the most attention from the media. It is not open to American writers, but then the Pulitzer is only open to US citizens and the National Book Award is only open to books published in the US, which rules out many writers, such as myself, who have had difficulty getting a US deal. Regular readers will recollect that I posted a rejection letter from one major house which raved about the book but said it was 'too British' for the American readers. There has, in the past few months, been a huge upswing in Anglophilia in the US. This I'm sure can be only reason why, in the twenty-four hours after the shortlist announcement, eleven major American publishers contacted my agent to ask if they could be sent copies to consider.

There is an import edition currently available on with a 2-4week delivery time , but anyone abroad who'd like to order would do better with the Book Depository, which offers books at prices but free delivery worldwide and has several fulfilment centres in the US.

This is a wonderful shortlist to be on (sorry, Sir Salman, I'm sure your time will come) and I'm particularly thrilled to share the list with the wonderful and funny Sebastian Barry and the great Indian writer Amitav Ghosh. Someone remarked on the fact that I am the only woman on the shortlist. It is ten years since this was last the case and sixteen since an all-male shortlist caused such outrage that it led to the creation of the Orange Prize. One lamentable exclusion was a short and extraordinary book by the Australian writer Helen Garner. It's called The Spare Room and was described by Peter Carey as the 'perfect book'.

So five weeks to go until the big night. Several people have raised questions about the press photos. here's the thing, any day now I must get round to contacting all those papers which took flattering pics of me over the years and ask them to delete the ones that are nearly a decade old and replace them with ones of me looking older and wiser.

I'd particularly like to commend that newspaper of record the International Herald Tribune for knocking five years of my age.

For the record, this remains my favourite picture of myself. It's six years old but it looks like me, and it is me. It was taken by one of my closest friends, more used to photographing warlords with the latest must-have AK47. I asked him if he would do mendacious flattery but he said not for love nor money, no.
Of course that was before Roger sorted out my fringe.

NOTE: The Jaeger dress isn't the one I'll be wearing at the black tie dinner on the 14th October, it's the one I wore at the shortlist party at the V&A on Tuesday night.


desertwind said...

Many congratulations, Linda. So cool.

I feel like I "know" a star!

BTW, I ordered the book from Amazon UK about two months ago and it only took five days to arrive here in California.

rosaria said...

Helen Garner's book is small, but perfectly formed, and a lamentable exclusion.

greying pixie said...

We're getting very excited for you Linda. The Jaeger dress is gorgeous. Your army of bloggers will be behind you in spirit every step of the way on the grand occasion.

Linda Grant said...

It's a very odd cut, that dress but I think it's to do with the weight of the velvet that it hangs really well.

indigo16 said...

If the next time you see Anya you could tell her that I have been short listed to cook tea tonight, do you think I might be as lucky as you?
The dress is stunning, I am green with envy and wish you the best of luck.

fay said...

I found myself smiling as I read through this: the bag, the dress, the photo, the book - all great. We're having a ball! Thank you.

Judith in Umbria said...

I do really appreciate that frock! It's so Bloomsbury I gasped when I saw it. I wish I were getting an award for anything so I could wear it, too.

Deja Pseu said...

Congratulations again, Linda, and I love that Jaeger dress!

Anonymous said...

Congratulations on the Booker nomination and congratulations on finding that incredible dress. With a dress like that you are sure to have a great evening.

Geraldine said...

Linda, I can't wait to see you on the screen in all your finery!

miss cavendish said...

The dress is very striking! It reminds me a little of a Voysey print and will light up the room when you attend the ceremony.

bonnie-ann black said...

heartfelt congats on the prize and please believe me that not all Americans are afeared of books written in "british"... i've been bilenglish since i was given old agatha christies by my mother at around age 9. as a matter of fact, i'll be in england to see Hamlet at the RSC in Stratford and one of my "must do" things is hitting Blackstones or some other great bookstore and loading up on the novels (yours being one) and mysteries and s/f not available here -- and avoiding shipping charges!

WestEndGirl said...

Mazel tov - will be watching with fingers and everything else crossed!

60 Going On 16 said...

Stunning frock, Linda, and how fantastic to have a really big excuse for getting all dressed up. Will be rooting for you down here in the Wild West.

Eric Forbes said...

Congratulations, Linda, on the the shortlisting!

What was the first thing you did when you found out you were shortlisted? What do you think of the other titles on the shortlist? And have you read any of them?

Eric Forbes
Kuala Lumpur

Julia said...

Congratulations. You deserve all this special treatment. Your writing is brilliant.