Booker Prize winner 2022: ‘Seven Moons of Maali Almeida’

Shehan Karunatilaka’s The Seven Moons of Maali Almeida won the 2022 Booker Prize at the Roundhouse in London on Monday.

Camilla, the newly appointed Queen Consort of Britain, presented the trophy to Karunatilaka, while Damon Galgut, winner of last year’s Booker Prize, presented the author with £50,000 in prize money. BBC News Channel and BBC World News covered the ceremony.

Published by the independent imprint Sort of Books, The Seven Moons of Maali Almeida is about a war photographer who dies during Sri Lanka’s civil war; his spirit must guide his living loved ones to uncover a hidden collection of photos. Karunatilaka is the second Sri Lankan-born author to win the Booker Prize, after Michael Ondaatje, who won for The English Patient in 1992.

Karunatilaka won the 2011 Commonwealth Book Prize for his debut novel Chinaman. He has also written rock songs, travel stories and screenplays.

In a recent Q&A for the Booker Prizes website, Karunatilaka said he started thinking about writing his second novel in 2009 “when, following the end of Sri Lanka’s civil war, there was a heated debate about how many civilians died and who was to blame was”. .

“A ghost story where the dead could offer their perspective seemed like a pretty bizarre idea to pursue, but I wasn’t brave enough to write about the present,” Karunatilaka explained. “So I went back 20 years, to the dark days of 1989.”

After the winner of this year’s Booker Prize was announced, 2022 jury chairman Neil MacGregor said in a statement that The Seven Moons of Maali Almeida was admired for the “ambition of its scope and the hilarious audacity of its narrative techniques.” .”

“This is a metaphysical thriller, an afterlife noir that not only blurs the boundaries of different genres but also of life and death, body and mind, East and West,” said MacGregor.

“It’s an absolutely serious philosophical hoopla that takes the reader to the ‘dark heart of the world’ – the murderous horrors of Sri Lanka’s civil war. And there the reader also discovers the tenderness and beauty, the love and faithfulness and the striving for an ideal, which justify every human life.”

Finalists for the Booker Prize, which in recent years has been open to any book published in English in the current or former British Commonwealth, included Zimbabwean author NoViolet Bulawayo’s ‘Glory’; “Small Things Like These” by Claire Keegan from Ireland; English writer Alan Garner’s Treacle Walker; and two books by American authors: “Oh William!” by Elizabeth Strout and “The Trees” by USC professor and writer Percival Everett.

During Monday’s ceremony, pop sensation and keynote speaker Dua Lipa spoke about her love of reading and credited inaugural International Booker Prize winner Ismail Kadare with helping her “define her family’s heritage and identity as Kosovo.” -Albanians” to explore.

“I often wonder if writers are aware of how many gifts they give us,” Lipa said during her speech. “Touring commitments take me all over the world and life is often hectic. Sometimes, just to survive, I have to adopt a tough exterior. And in those moments, it’s books that soften me.”

Fresh from his Booker Prize win, Karunatilaka will perform in the Southbank Center’s Queen Elizabeth Hall on Thursday as part of this year’s London Literature Festival.

https://www.latimes.com/entertainment-arts/story/2022-10-17/booker-prize-winner-2022-seven-moons-of-maali-almeida-shehan-karunatilaka Booker Prize winner 2022: ‘Seven Moons of Maali Almeida’

Sarah Ridley

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