Bloomsbury co-founder ‘nervous’ about joining Man Booker Prize judging panel

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Bloomsbury co-founder Liz Calder said she is nervous about being on the 2019 Man Booker Prize judging panel as she collected a CBE for her services to literature.

Ms Calder, who said she had spent her life reading, has been responsible for publishing several Man Booker Prize winners during her career, including Margaret Atwood.

One of the UK’s most respected literary figures, she was presented with her honours by the Prince of Wales at Buckingham Palace on Thursday.

Liz Calder speaks with the Prince of Wales as she is presented with her honour (Jonathan Brady/PA)
Ms Calder speaks with the Prince of Wales as she is presented with her honour (Jonathan Brady/PA)

“It’s just a very interesting thing to do, it’s meeting the other judges regularly and talking about the books. It’s challenging but I like it.”

The panel is set to be chaired by Peter Florence, director of the Hay Festival. Calder will be joined by novelist and filmmaker Xiaolu Guo, writer and broadcaster Afua Hirsch and Joanna MacGregor, a pianist and composer.

The shortlist of six books are due to be confirmed in early September, with the winner of the £50,000 prize announced in October 2019 at an awards ceremony at London’s Guildhall.

Last year’s prize went to Milkman by Anna Burns and was announced by the Duchess of Cornwall.

After receiving the honours from Charles, Ms Calder said: “His wife is very interested in literature and she always goes to the Booker prize, so that was nice, as we had that to talk about.”

Ms Calder, who formed Suffolk-based publisher Full Circle Editions in 2009, said it was “wonderfully moving” to receive the honours and never imagined visiting the palace for an honours ceremony.

She said: “I feel I’m a complete fraud, like a lot of people say, because I’m lucky enough to do something in my life which I really loved.

“I feel very honoured and undeserving.”

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