Stepping out of (or into) the shadows 

Well, it has been quiet around here lately. I had been hoping to be back up and running by now, but unfortunately I’m still only able to use my phone to get online, which makes blogging awkward. You can still find me talking about books on Facebook and Twitter, though. 

Having said that, there is news that requires a blog post: it’s time for award shadowing. Once again, I will be part of the Man Booker International Prize shadow panel, reading and (hopefully!) reviewing the longlist once it has been announced on 15 March. I’ll post more about that at the time. 

The other project I want to tell you about is already underway. Inspired by the idea of shadow juries, the writer (and friend of this blog) Nina Allan has decided to put one together for this year’s Arthur C. Clarke Award. She invited me to take part, and I was happy to accept. Besides me and Nina, the Clarke shadow jury includes Megan AMVajra ChandrasekeraVictoria Hoyle; Nick Hubble; Paul KincaidJonathan McCalmont; and Maureen Kincaid Speller. (The links are to the individual blog posts – or, in Victoria’s case, a video – where each person announced their involvement in the jury.)

As with any other shadow jury, we will all be reading and reviewing the Clarke shortlist, which is announced on 3 May. However, the Clarke Award doesn’t have a longlist phase, so we’re doing something a little different to begin with. Each shadow juror has put together their own personal shortlist from the published list of books submitted for this year’s Clarke. We’re each going to review the books on our individual shortlists as well as the official one. The hope in doing this is to widen the conversation around the Clarke Award. It’s been a few years since I last blogged the Clarke, and I look forward to getting back into it. 

On that note, let me tell you which books I’ve selected for my personal shortlist:

  • The Power by Naomi Alderman 
  • The Many Selves of Katherine North by Emma Geen 
  • Graft by Matt Hill
  • The Gradual by Christopher Priest 
  • The Core of the Sun by Johanna Sinisalo (tr. Lola Rogers) 
  • The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead

The other thing to say is that the Clarke shadow jury is being hosted by the new Centre for Science Fiction and Fantasy at Anglia Ruskin University. This means that our reviews will all be published on the CSFF website first, before appearing on individual blogs. The site already hosts an introductory essay by me about my relationship with the Clarke Award; and a piece explaining in more detail why I chose the novels in my personal shortlist (they’re all books I hadn’t read previously). I recommend spending some time exploring the CSFF site, because there are introductions and shortlist pieces from each shadow juror.

One last question: how am I planning to fit all this in? When I agreed to take part in the shadow Clarke, I already knew I’d be doing the MBIP at roughly the same time, but I felt confident there was enough time for everything. I hadn’t expected to be having difficulties with blogging. 

I think I should still be able to do it all. We’re writing full-length reviews for the shadow Clarke, but there’s also more time with that award; so, while I may not (for example) be able to review all of my personal shortlist before the announcement of the official shortlist, I should still be able to review both shortlists by the time that the Clarke winner is announced on 27 July.

The biggest task is getting through the MBIP longlist before the shortlist announcement on 20 April. I usually manage to read everything, but not necessarily to review it all. I may end up using the shorter ‘snapshot’ review format that I’ve been trying out on social media; but I’ll try to post as much on here as I can. 

Let the shadowing begin! 

6 Comments

  1. With two shadow juries on your horizon you are going to be hellishly busy the next few months. I’d love to do a shadow jury but the pace is a bit daunting.

    • You’re right about the pacing – it always helps to have plenty of members in a shadow jury, as it increases the chance of covering all the books. I’ve usually already read at least a few books on the MBIP longlist, so I should be okay.

  2. Sounds like you’re going to have your work cut out! Good luck with it all.

  3. I have to admit my thought was how were you going to fit it all in. Booker’s right with “hellishly busy”. Good luck!

    Will you post your thoughts on the books here, internet connection permitting? It’s a very good jury for the Shadow Clarke.

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