Thursday, 19 July 2007
No, It's Not Mussolini
The gentleman in the picture is not a dictator haranguing a pliant populace from his balcony but Christopher Isherwood biographer Peter Parker announcing the winner of the 2007 JR Ackerley Prize for autobiography at the English P.E.N. annual summer party last night in London. Held in the splendid house and garden in Kensington Church Street of publisher and author Tom Stacey the party is one of the reliable features of the London literary calendar at which the Ackerley Prize is announced (and bloggers refresh themselves). The winner this year was Brian Thompson for Keeping Mum. Parker, seen here at an upper window addressing the guests in the garden below, explained that there are no submissions for this prize. The judges call in books they want to consider and the criteria for the Ackerley (named after the famous Listener literary editor J. R. Ackerley (1896-1967)) are rather vague but the typical entrant is usually very English, a bit posh and a teeny weeny bit camp (PEN's preferred term is "outrageous"). Not having read this year's winner I cannot say whether any or all of these criteria were met this year.