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Not just any old authors but authors of the year

Not just any old authors but authors of the year

Congratulations to Karen Joy Fowler, shortlisted for this year's Man Booker Prize for We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves, and David Nicholls, who was longlisted for Us. They may have lost out at the big event to Richard Flanagan but they have both just picked up gongs at the National Book Awards. Fowler was named International Author of the Year and Nicholls UK Author of the Year (pipping fellow MB nominee Ali Smith, as well as previous alumni Sarah Waters and David Mitchell). The winners had the pleasure of meeting the nation's sweetheart, Mary Berry, who won the Lifetime Achievement award – presumably for her books rather than her baking.

Don't feel too sorry for Ali Smith though. Following her Man Booker shortlisting she has barely had time to think. When she is not scooping up (almost) every other prize going (Goldsmiths, Saltire, a Costa shortlisting, and counting . . .) she is hard at work on other projects. The latest to put a bulge in her portfolio is Guest Director of the 2015 Brighton Festival, the largest multi-arts festival in Britain. Previous directors have included the sculptor Anish Kapoor, the musician Brian Eno, Burma's democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi, the actress Vanessa Redgrave (2012), and the poet and former Children’s Laureate Michael Rosen – a heterogenous bunch. Smith described her thinking in positively Eric Cantona-esque terms: 'Imagine the world seen from the eye of a bird … Birds with nothing but the urge to flock together, get there, be here now. Imagine the borders between the artforms. Imagine them opened, crossed, melted, made invisible, so that poetry meets music meets theatre meets dance meets thought meets sculptural meets rhythm meets fiction meets the natural world. I'm a fan of the unexpected connection, the crossing places between the art forms, the place where they meet, open to each other and fuse into something more.' So there you have it.

Another of this year's Man Booker nominees, Neel Mukherjee, is not letting the grass grow under his feet either. He has just been named as one of the judges for the 2015 Caine Prize for African Writing. Although the prize is for short stories Mukherjee will still have plenty to read – 140 stories were submitted last year, not far off the number of books the Man Booker judges had to read. A previous winner is NoViolet Bulawayo (2011) who went on to be MB shortlisted in 2013.

The nominations for the 2015 IMPAC Dublin Literary Award have just been announced. Among the 149 books in contention is a slew of works by Man Booker authors. Included are MB winners Richard Flanagan, Eleanor Catton, Margaret Atwood, J.M. Coetzee and Roddy Doyle alongside other luminaries such as Jim Crace, Jhumpa Lahiri, Ruth Ozeki and Christos Tsiolkas. The shortlist for the prize won't be announced until April 2015 with the winner named in June, so there's a long time for the authors to dream about how they might spend the winner's whopping 100,000 Euros prize – and watch exchange rates nervously.