US author George Saunders wins 2017 Man Booker Prize

George Saunders poses after winning the Man Booker Prize for Fiction 2017 in London. (Reuters)
Updated 18 October 2017
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US author George Saunders wins 2017 Man Booker Prize

LONDON: US author George Saunders on Tuesday became only the second American writer to win Britain’s renowned Man Booker Prize, which was awarded for his first full-length novel “Lincoln in the Bardo.”
Judges for the world’s most prestigious English-language literary award praised as “utterly original” the book that chronicles the death of Abraham Lincoln’s 11-year-old son Willie using the accounts of hundreds of narrators.
“The form and style of this utterly original novel reveals a witty, intelligent, and deeply moving narrative,” said Lola Young, chair of the judging panel, in announcing the prize at a ceremony in London.
Saunders, 58, described the award as a “great honor, which I hope to live up to with the rest of my work, for the rest of my life.”
In a brief, politically tinged acceptance speech, he made several thinly veiled references to the controversial policies of US President Donald Trump.
“We live in a strange time,” he told the audience. “In the US now we’re hearing a lot about the need to protect culture. Well, this tonight is culture.”
He later told reporters he was in disbelief and numb at the award.
“For an artist, I think validation is really helpful,” he added.
“My opinion of myself improves a little bit.”
The winner of the Man Booker receives £52,500 ($69,300), although the bigger prize is seen as a spike in sales which invariably follow the announcement of the winner.
This year’s shortlist stoked controversy over its big name omissions and eclectic line up, with one British columnist calling it “baffling” and a leading US critic decrying its “Americanization.”
It pitted three nominees from the US against two British writers and a British-Pakistani author.
The award, launched in 1969, was only open to novelists from Commonwealth states until it began permitting those from other English-speaking countries in 2014.
Last year Paul Beatty became the first American to win for his novel, “The Sellout.”
Saunders was the British bookmakers’ favorite ahead of the 2017 announcement on Tuesday.
He wrote “Lincoln in the Bardo” over a four-year period, after first conceptualising it 20 years ago, the author told a press conference following the ceremony.


Rebel Wilson loses bid to keep most of $3.4 million defamation payout

Updated 16 November 2018
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Rebel Wilson loses bid to keep most of $3.4 million defamation payout

  • The actress had sued Woman’s Day magazine last year over a series of articles in 2015
  • ‘The whole reason for bringing this case is that I wanted to stand up to a bully, which is Bauer Media’

SYDNEY: Rebel Wilson said she was glad she’d stood up to “a bully” despite losing her bid Friday to keep most of the record payout awarded to her in her defamation case against an Australian magazine.
The actress had sued Woman’s Day magazine last year over a series of articles in 2015 that she said had painted her as someone who’d lied about her real name, age and childhood in order to make it in Hollywood.
The Supreme Court of Victoria state awarded her an Australian-record payout of $3.4 million (A$4.7 million) after a jury concluded she’d missed out on film roles because of the articles. Wilson had sought $5 million in damages.
But this June the amount was reduced by 90 percent after the magazine’s publishers, Bauer Media, appealed. Victoria’s Court of Appeal said Wilson could not prove economic loss, or that she’d missed out on film contracts as a result of the articles. The court ordered the actress to pay back almost $3 million, and 80 percent of Bauer’s legal costs.
Wilson’s lawyers on Friday sought leave to appeal against the reduction in the High Court — Australia’s highest judicial body — but the application was refused.
“In our opinion there are insufficient prospects that an appeal will succeed,” Justice Virginia Bell said at the court in the national capital, Canberra.
The magazine publisher welcomed the decision. “Bauer Media is invested in its Australian business now more than ever,” Bauer chief executive Paul Dykzeul said in a statement. “Our audience trust our content and our writers and they love our iconic brands like Woman’s Day and Australian Women’s Weekly.”
Wilson, who sat in the front row of the public gallery during the brief hearing, said outside the court she was glad the process had been brought to an end.
“This has been a long fight and a long journey in the courts, but the great thing about today is that it brings it to a definitive end,” she told reporters.
“The whole reason for bringing this case is that I wanted to stand up to a bully, which is Bauer Media.”
Wilson said she was proud of herself for “seeing it out right to the bitter end,” and that she was glad the initial jury had “restored my reputation.”
“Today was just about a small point of special damages and for me it was never about the money, it was about standing up to a bully and I’ve done that.”
Wilson is a native Australian best known for her Hollywood roles in the “Pitch Perfect” films and “Bridesmaids.”