FOR two hours, I was entranced: literary greats introduced their choice of the best of the Bookers—with the shortlisted books brought to life by actors Chiwetel Ejiofor, Fiona Shaw, Geoffrey Streatfeild and Meera Syal.

And this celebration of narrative form reaches beyond literature nerds to remind us all why we need art. In this strange moment when national leadership seems bent towards its most narrow and xenophobic interests, when political leaders act and speak without a sense of integrity nor service to a wider community, books remind us of our common humanity – and that the struggles are not new.

The ceremony had advocates for each of the Booker’s five decades. Watching Lemn Sissay playfully express his passion for the weave of time, memory and the nature of evidence in Moon Tiger and then hearing the graceful and generous words of Penelope Lively herself almost ended the event for me: I leaned towards the exit, wanting to grab her book and shut myself away with it.

For the rest of the article, please visit the Camden New Journal website : http://camdennewjournal.com/article/booker-prize-page-against-the-machine

Toby will offer a short (three-week) course on The English Patient in October…check the website for details….

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