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The arts in 2011

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Will Gompertz | 12:31 UK time, Thursday, 6 January 2011

Arts-wise there's plenty to look forward to this year. Gustavo Dudamel and Simon Rattle at the Barbican and Claudio Abbado at the Royal Festival Hall are all putting in shifts on these shores.

Anna Nicole Smith


Mark Anthony Turnage's opera about Anna Nicole Smith and Bartabas at Sadler's Wells could turn out to be the arts events of the year. And if the previous efforts are anything to go by, it's worth booking in for a summer season in Manchester for their International Festival.

Danny Boyle's Frankenstein at the National Theatre and the Modern British Sculpture show at the Royal Academy are bankers. And I saw an early preview of the film Submarine, directed by Richard Ayoade from the IT Crowd. It comes out in mid-March and is a clever, funny and whimsical Brit flick.

Beryl Bainbridge


But it's the posthumous publication of Beryl Bainbridge's book The Girl in the Polka Dot Dress (Little, Brown) that most caught my eye. Not just because the great dame was a witty, direct and brilliant writer, but also because I thought it would put her in the frame for wining the Booker Prize.

On the Frequently Asked Questions page of their website it states the following rules for eligibility:

"Any full-length novel, written by a citizen of the Commonwealth or the Republic of Ireland and published in the United Kingdom for the first time in the year of the prize. The novel must be an original work in English (not a translation) and must not be self-published."

She ticks all those boxes. I saw a vision of Beryl Bainbridge, fag in hand, laughing from above - having won the 2011 Booker Prize - after being overlooked five times when she was short-listed for the award while still alive. She'd be the first posthumous winner to-boot.

But alas, it is not to be. Dig a little deeper and rule 3.b states the author must be alive at the time of the award. This wasn't always the case; the rule was changed some years ago when a recently deceased author made it to the shortlist. Maybe now is the time to change it back?


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