The Duchess of Cornwall sent a message of support to this year’s winner of the Man Booker Prize, and praised the fact that, in all the uncertainties of this year, “we have, at least, been able to read. And as long as we can read, we can travel, we can escape, we can explore, we can laugh, we can cry and we can grapple with life’s mysteries.”
Camilla has taken part in the presentation of the Booker Prize since 2013, though this year her involvement will come in the form of a pre-recorded message filmed at Clarence House and shared during the streamed broadcast on the BBC during the prize giving on November 19th 2020.
Camilla said: “It is a huge pleasure to be with you this evening, albeit in a disembodied form, to mark the 52nd Booker Prize.
Camilla spoke of her loving of reading, dating back to her youth, and how one of her favourite books was National Velvet. “In later life, Enid [the book’s author] was asked why she had chosen to become an author, and I wondered if her reply might resonate with some of you.
“‘Who wants to become a writer? And why? Because it’s the answer to everything…It’s the streaming reason for living. To note, to pin down, to build up, to create, to be astonished at nothing, to cherish the oddities, to let nothing go down the drain… to make a great flower out of life, even if it’s a cactus.
“‘To make a great flower out of life, even if it’s a cactus.’ For many people, this year has been a bit of a cactus (if the cactus-lovers among you will forgive me). But, as Enid says, writers have the power to turn a cactus into a great flower. While Covid deprived us of so many cultural pleasures – live music, theatre, cinema, art galleries, even being together in the flesh this evening – we have, at least, been able to read. And as long as we can read, we can travel, we can escape, we can explore, we can laugh, we can cry and we can grapple with life’s mysteries.”
Camilla added, “Through reading, we can also find community. This year, as book sales have vastly increased, so online book clubs have flourished and booklovers have been forging new connections with one other…
“For all these reasons, this year’s Booker Prize is even more important than usual. It provides an opportunity to reflect on the richness of English-language literature. It allows us to give thanks for the transformative power of books, which change cacti into flowers. It demonstrates the vastness, and closeness, of the literary community. Above all, it celebrates wonderful writers who share their gifts to strengthen, provoke, move and comfort their readers.”
The Booker Prize is the most prestigious literary prize in the world and has been presented for over 50 years. This year’s shortlisted authors Diane Cook, Tsitsi Dangarembga, Avni Doshi, Maaza Mengiste, Douglas Stuart and Brandon Taylor.