The University of Brighton’s The Big Read scheme was rewarded with an invitation to Buckingham Palace for a prestigious event celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Man Booker Prize.
The reception, hosted by the Duchess of Cornwall, was attended by previous winners of the award including Julian Barnes, Howard Jacobson, Eleanor Catton, Marlon James and V S Naipaul.
The ceremony took place days before Michael Ondaatje’s The English Patient won the Golden Booker Prize – an award given to readers’ favourite Booker-winning novel of the last 50 years.
The university’s invitation was due to our annual participation in The Big Read initiative in association with the Booker Prize Foundation. The Big Read encourages first-year students and staff to read contemporary fiction by offering them free Booker-nominated novels.
This year’s chosen novel is Exit West by Mohsin Hamid, who will join us for a special event at the Sallis Benney Theatre on November 1. Students will be able to pick up their free book in the new term but books for staff are available now.
Vice-Chancellor Professor Debra Humphris said The Big Read plays an important role in getting students across the university interested in contemporary fiction.
She said: “As a university we are committed to giving young people the chance to read a range of modern literature. The Big Read is aimed not just at literature students but anybody who wants to take part. It is a great way to get people into reading.”
Professor Humphris added it was an honour to have been involved in the Buckingham Palace reception: “It was a real privilege to have been invited to Buckingham Palace to mark the 50th anniversary of such a celebrated award.
“The Man Booker Prize rewards the very best authors in recent history and it was a thrill to have met many of them at the Palace reception.”
Eve Smith from the Booker Foundation said of The Big Read: “On behalf of the Boozer Prize Foundation, we are so pleased at how successfully the project has grown since its inaugural year, especially as it seems to have drawn in many from outside the Literature department.”