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Man Booker 50 Festival programme unveiled

Man Booker 50 Festival programme unveiled

Man Booker 50 Festival 

6-8 July 2018

Southbank Centre | #ManBooker50

Full programme available here


  • 18 panels and discussions featuring authors from the prize’s 50 year history

  • A star-studded line up to announce the one-off Golden Man Booker Prize

  • Special broadcasts on BBC Four, BBC Radio 3 Free Thinking and BBC World Book Club

  • Seven masterclasses offering insights into the world of publishing

Today, Wednesday 11 April 2018, the Man Booker Prize announces the programme for the flagship event of its year-long 50th anniversary celebrations, the Man Booker 50 Festival. Run in partnership with Southbank Centre from 6 to 8 July, the festival’s heavy-weight line-up celebrates 50 years of the finest fiction and introduces new audiences to its winning, shortlisted and longlisted authors.

Featuring more than 60 speakers, including 17 winners from the prize’s history, from Kazuo Ishiguro (1989) to Paul Beatty (2016) – the programme of literary debates, readings and masterclasses offers an unrivalled chance to hear these champions of fiction in conversation at the UK’s leading arts centre. Spanning 17 acres, events will take place across the site in Royal Festival Hall and the newly refurbished Queen Elizabeth Hall and Purcell Room.

Tickets go on sale via Southbank Centre’s website at 1pm Wednesday 11 April to Southbank Centre members, and will be available for the general public to buy from 10am on Thursday 12 April.

The festival, curated by Festival Director Mary Sackville-West, will open on the Friday night with two giants of historical fiction, winners Pat Barker and Hilary Mantel, examining how the form can shine a light on our present, along with the challenges of writing trilogies. Saturday night sees a trio of special events, including a rare public appearance from mother and daughter Anita and Kiran Desai – both prize alumni – who discuss writing across the generations; the 2017 Man Booker International winner, David Grossman in conversation with author and former judge Natalie Haynes; and a screening of Anthony Minghella’s adaptation of the Booker-winning novel The English Patient featuring a Q&A with its author Michael Ondaatje.                                   

The star-studded Golden Man Booker Live will bring the festival to a close on the Sunday night. Compered by Jude Kelly and featuring the prizes’ judges, along with readings from actors, the event will reveal the result of the public vote and crown the best work of fiction from the last five decades of prize (see notes to editors for further information about this prize).

Helena Kennedy, Chair of the Booker Prize Foundation, says:

‘The Man Booker Prize has celebrated the defining novels and authors of our times and I am delighted to mark this milestone in its history with this special festival at Southbank Centre. The one-off programme will acknowledge the prize’s past, present and future, celebrating the last 50 years of authors, looking ahead to the new voices of the literary stage and recognising the power of the art form. If the next 50 years is as fierce, playful, radical and reflective as the last, I can’t wait to be a part of it.’

Luke Ellis, CEO of Man Group, comments:

‘We are excited to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Man Booker Prize this year, and to have played a meaningful role in supporting this remarkable award. The Man Booker 50 Festival will mark the history and continuing relevance of the prize, with a programme which celebrates outstanding fiction from the past half century and seeks to inspire the readers and writers of the future.’

The festival programme spans literature, politics, history, art and film and features a series of unique pairings and panels including: Peter Carey and Julian Barnes on literary passions, influences and storytelling techniques; Kamila Shamsie, Andrew O’Hagan and DBC Pierre on the role of the novel in our connected world; Paul Beatty, Eleanor Catton, Deborah Levy and Graeme Macrae Burnet on experiments in literary form; Paul Beatty and Roddy Doyle on the use of comedy in fiction; Alan Hollinghurst and Marlon James considering the commonalities in their portrayal of gay sexuality and the political, cultural and sexual climates of their novels’ times; Anne Enright and Penelope Lively examining how the past impacts the present and how memory affects perception; and Colm Tóibín and Turner prize-winning artist Rachel Whiteread discussing their collaborative work on The Testament of Mary.

Ted Hodgkinson, Senior Programmer, Literature and Spoken Word, Southbank Centre, says:

‘Distilled from five decades of the finest fiction, this singular festival promises to be a once-in-a-lifetime gathering of literary brilliance. Such a rare convergence of world renowned writers spanning genres, geographies and decades of the Man Booker Prize signifies an important moment to take stock of why novels matter and how they have captured our changing world over half a century. With the festival taking place right across the whole Southbank Centre whose 1950s and 60s cultural venues have showcased the best in both established and upcoming artistic talent over the years, it is a fitting space to be celebrating these true titans of the novel as well as hearing from the visionaries writing the next chapter.’

As broadcast partner of the prize, BBC Arts is making a series of programmes throughout the festival, engaging audiences around the world in the celebrations. These include an hour-long documentary on BBC Four; Howard Jacobson’s keynote speech, which will be broadcast on BBC Radio 3’s Free Thinking; and BBC World Book Club with Harriet Gilbert, during which she will discuss Bring Up the Bodies with double winner Hilary Mantel in front of a live festival audience.

The weekend will also present an exclusive strand of masterclasses offering an insight into the industry from authors at the top of their game. Ben Okri, Eleanor Catton, Kamila Shamsie and Graeme Macrae Burnet will all lead small-scale workshops on creativity and writing, and leading figures from the world of publishing will run sessions for aspiring writers on how to find a literary agent, get published and edit their novel.

The full line-up of Man Booker authors is Pat Barker, Julian Barnes, Paul Beatty, Peter Carey, Eleanor Catton, Anita Desai, Kiran Desai, Roddy Doyle, Anne Enright, David Grossman, Alan Hollinghurst, Kazuo Ishiguro, Howard Jacobson, Marlon James, Deborah Levy, Penelope Lively, Graeme Macrae Burnet, Hilary Mantel, Andrew O'Hagan, Ben Okri, Michael Ondaatje, DBC Pierre, Kamila Shamsie and Colm Tóibín.

The Man Booker 50 programme is available to view here.

To hear the most up-to-date news on the prize, listen to the Man Booker Prize Podcast series, to learn more about the prize’s history and share your thoughts online, please visit:

@ManBookerPrize |#ManBooker50

For all press enquiries please contact:

Four Colman Getty on +44(0)20 3697 4200

Laura Steele  

Hannah Davies


Notes to Editors

  • The Man Booker 50 programme and images, including the Man Booker Prize anniversary logo, author images and book jackets, are available here. Prize branding has been evolved for the anniversary year, with the Man Booker Prize logo to feature a 50th bookmark. The brand colours for the year are pink for the spring Man Booker International Prize, slate grey for the autumn Man Booker Prize, and a special rose gold foil for the logo when featured in print.


  • From 1pm on Wednesday 11 April the full programme will be available on Southbank Centre website here. Tickets range from £10-40, excluding BBC events which are ticketed but free of charge. Please refer to the programme for individual ticket prices for each event. 


  • The Golden Man Booker Prize is a special one-off award that will crown the best work of fiction from the last five decades of the prize, as chosen by five judges and then voted for by the public. The judges appointed to read the winning novels from each decade of the prize are: writer and editor Robert McCrum (1970s); poet Lemn Sissay MBE (1980s); novelist Kamila Shamsie (1990s); broadcaster and novelist Simon Mayo (2000s); and poet Hollie McNish (2010s). Each judge will choose what, in his or her opinion, is the best winner from that particular decade, and will champion that book against the other judges’ selections. The judges’ ‘Golden Five’ shortlist will be announced at the Hay Festival on 26 May 2018. The five books will then be put to a month-long public vote from 26 May to 25 June on the Man Booker Prize website to decide the overall winner, before announcing the winner at the Man Booker 50 Festival on 8 July 2018.


  • The Literary Director of the Booker Prize Foundation is Gaby Wood. The Administrator of the Man Booker International Prize is Fiammetta Rocco – Culture Correspondent at The Economist and 1843


  • George Saunders won the 2017 Man Booker Prize for Fiction with Lincoln in the Bardo (Bloomsbury Publishing). Bloomsbury issued an immediate reprint of 100,000 copies. In the week following the 2017 winner announcement, sales of Lincoln in the Bardo increased by 1227%. The book was announced as the Sunday Times’ Novel of the Year


  • In 2018, the Man Booker Prize will be chaired by philosopher, cultural theorist and novelist Kwame Anthony Appiah and consists of: crime writer Val McDermid; cultural critic Leo Robson; feminist writer and critic Jacqueline Rose; and artist and graphic novelist Leanne Shapton.


  • The Man Booker Prize for Fiction was first awarded in 1969 and has been sponsored by Man Group since 2002. The title ‘Booker Prize’ therefore only applies to prize years 1969 – 2001, before Man Group’s sponsorship began, and since 2002 it has been called The Man Booker Prize for Fiction. It would be greatly appreciated if you could ensure that your editorial is factually correct by referring to the prize’s full title at least once, if not in the headline, then in your next subsequent mention.  For a full history of the prize including previous winners, shortlisted authors and judges visit the website:


  • The Man Booker International Prize is awarded annually in May for the best single work of fiction translated into English and published in the UK. The £50,000 prize is divided equally between the author and the translator. Each shortlisted author and translator receives £1,000. The 2017 winner was A Horse Walks into a Bar by David Grossman, translated by Jessica Cohen. Chaired by author and cultural commentator Lisa Appignanesi OBE, the 2018 panel consists of: translator Michael Hofmann; novelist and essayist Hari Kunzru; critic Tim Martin; and novelist and short story writer Helen Oyeyemi. The shortlist will be announced on 12 April 2018 and the winner will be announced on 22 May 2018


  • The trustees of the Booker Prize Foundation are: Baroness Kennedy QC – Chair, former Chair of the British Council and Principal of Mansfield College, Oxford; Lord Baker of Dorking CH; Bidisha – writer, critic and broadcaster; Victoria Glendinning CBE – biographer; James Naughtie – broadcaster; Ben Okri – writer and 1991 Booker Prize winner; Christopher Pearce – former Finance Director of Rentokil plc; Professor Louise Richardson – Vice Chancellor of the University of Oxford. Jonathan Taylor CBE is President of the Foundation and Sir Ronald Harwood, Baroness Neuberger and Baroness Nicholson of Winterbourne are Vice Presidents


  • The Booker Prize Foundation Advisory Committee, which advises on any changes to the rules and on the selection of the judges, represents all aspects of the book world. Its members are: Mark Chilton – Company Secretary and General Counsel of Booker Group plc; Jonty Claypole – Head of Arts, BBC; James Daunt – Managing Director of Waterstones; Jonathan Douglas – Director of the National Literacy Trust; Maggie Fergusson – writer and Secretary of the Royal Society of Literature; Adam Freudenheim – publisher, Pushkin Press; Derek Johns – Author & Literary Agent; Peter Kemp – Chief Fiction Reviewer, The Sunday Times; Rosanna Konarzewski – Global Head of Communications and Marketing, Man Group; Nigel Newton – publisher, Bloomsbury; Fiammetta Rocco – Culture Correspondent at The Economist and 1843 and Man Booker International Prize Administrator; Michal Shavit – publishing director, Jonathan Cape; Eve Smith – Secretary, the Booker Prize Foundation; Boyd Tonkin – writer and critic. It is chaired by Gaby Wood, Literary Director, Booker Prize Foundation


  • Man Group has sponsored the Man Booker Prize since 2002 and the Man Booker International Prize since its inception in 2005. An active investment management firm founded in 1783, Man Group was recognised as a partner that mirrored the quality, integrity and longevity of the Booker Prize. The prize underscores Man Group's charitable focus on literacy and education, as well as the firm’s commitment to excellence and creativity. Together with the wider charitable activities of the Booker Prize Foundation, the prizes play a very important role in promoting literary excellence on a global scale that the firm is honoured to support


  • Man Group is an active investment management firm focused on delivering performance and client portfolio solutions through its five investment management businesses: Man AHL; Man Numeric; Man GLG; Man FRM and Man Global Private Markets. Man Group’s investment management businesses provide long-only, alternative and private markets products on a single and multi-manager basis, leveraging the firm’s robust infrastructure to provide a diverse range of strategies across investment approaches, styles and asset classes. The original business was founded in 1783. Today, Man Group plc is listed on the London Stock Exchange under the ticker EMG.L and is a constituent of the FTSE 250 Index. As at 31 December 2017, Man Group’s funds under management were $109.1 billion. Man Group also supports many awards, charities and initiatives around the world, including sponsorship of the Man Booker literary prizes. Further information can be found at


  • Booker is the UK's leading food wholesaler with 198 business centres and a national delivery network. It serves over 441,000 catering customers, 94,000 independent retailers and 641,000 small businesses. 


  • The Booker Prize Foundation has a longstanding partnership with RNIB (Royal National Institute of Blind People). The Foundation funds the production of the shortlisted titles in braille, giant print and audio, which the sight loss charity produces by the date the winner is announced. The accessible versions are then made available to the tens of thousands of blind and partially sighted members of the RNIB Library. People with sight loss have a limited choice of books in accessible formats and often have to wait much longer than their sighted peers for titles to be made available to them – and there are many more books that they will never have the chance to read. The Foundation is working with RNIB to change this story. For further information contact the RNIB PR Team on 020 7391 2223 or


  • The Booker Prize Foundation has partnered with the National Literary Trust since 2012 to deliver Books Unlocked. The Foundation funds the programme, which has transformed the lives of prisoners and young offenders in the UK by helping them develop a love of reading. Prisoners are able to engage with high-quality writing as copies of Man Booker Prize shortlisted titles are sent out to prison reading groups. These same titles are also serialised as audiobooks on National Prison Radio, which is broadcast into c.80,000 cells, enabling still more prisoners to experience these exceptional stories. Authors go into prisons to discuss their writing directly with reading groups and many also record interviews on National Prison Radio. The shared vision for Books Unlocked is to bring about positive change in prisoners’ life chances. 2018 is the National Literacy Trust’s 25th anniversary. For 25 years the charity has led the campaign to transform the future of the UK’s most disadvantaged young people by improving their literacy levels:


  • The Booker Prize Archive was given on loan in 2003 to Oxford Brookes University where it now resides


  • Southbank Centre is the UK’s largest arts centre, occupying a 17-acre site that sits in the midst of London’s most vibrant cultural quarter on the South Bank of the Thames. The site has an extraordinary creative and architectural history stretching back to the 1951 Festival of Britain. Southbank Centre is home to the Royal Festival Hall, Queen Elizabeth Hall, Purcell Room and Hayward Gallery as well as The National Poetry Library and the Arts Council Collection. For further information please visit