Marlon James’ “A Brief History of Seven Killings,” his epic novel of Jamaica, has been longlisted for the Man Booker Prize. This is the second year that American writers have been eligible for the prestigious award, which originally was restricted to writers in the British Commonwealth. James lives in the Twin Cities and teaches at Macalester College in St. Paul.
Of 156 nominees, a longlist of 13 titles was chosen. The other books are: Bill Clegg (U.S.) “Did You Ever Have a Family”; Anne Enright (Ireland) “The Green Road”; Laila Lalami (U.S.) “The Moor’s Account”; Tom McCarthy (U.K.) “Satin Island”; Chigozie Obioma (Nigeria) “The Fishermen”; Andrew O’Hagan (U.K.) “The Illuminations”; Marilynne Robinson (U.S.) “Lila”; Anuradha Roy (India) “Sleeping on Jupiter”; Sunjeev Sahota (U.K.) “The Year of the Runaways”; Anna Smaill (New Zealand) “The Chimes”; Anne Tyler (U.S.) “A Spool of Blue Thread”; and Hanya Yanagihara (U.S.) “A Little Life.”
The shortlist will be announced Sept. 15 and the winner on Oct. 13. The prize is 50,000 British pounds.
Birkin handbag without Birkin?
British singer Jane Birkin has asked Hermes to take her name off the crocodile-skin versions of the iconic Birkin handbag, after being contacted by animal rights group PETA over “cruel” slaughtering practices. A PETA video from June shows several reptiles at a Texas farm that supplies crocodile skins to Hermes left twitching in a bloody ice container to die after being shot with a captive bolt gun and cut with a knife. Birkin said she has “asked Hermes to de-baptize the Birkin Croco until better practices in line with international norms can be put in place.” The Birkin bag was created in 1984 by Hermes in honor of the famed singer and ex-girlfriend of Serge Gainsbourg, and is, still today, one of the world’s most exclusive luxury items. The bag is beloved by stars such as Victoria Beckham and comes in calf, ostrich, lizard as well as crocodile. It can cost between $10,000 and more than $100,000, with waiting lists to buy it stretching into years. PETA said it takes three crocodile belly skins to make one bag.
New gig: After six years of helping the Obama administration determine the nation’s food policy, former White House chef and food policy adviser Sam Kass will now report on it. NBC News announced Wednesday that Kass, who worked at the White House from 2009 until 2014 including as executive director of First Lady Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move! campaign, would serve as a senior food analyst for “Today” and “NBC Nightly News with Lester Holt,” as well as write a monthly online column for Today Food.