Two first time novelists and titles from four independent publishers make up this year’s Man Booker Prize shortlist and, encouragingly, in a sign that printed book design continues to up its game, the covers are in rude health too…
Take Suzanne Dean’s design for The Sense of an Ending by Julian Barnes (published by Jonathan Cape/Random House). Despite the presence of new life in the floating seeds, the cover bleeds off towards a foreboding darkness with the ends of the book’s pages blackened, too.
A striking graphic approach from Dan Stiles works well on the cover for The Sisters Brothers by Patrick De Witt (published by Granta and Ecco/Harper Collins). The book design is by Suet Yee Chong at Ecco.
The placing of the title is what makes the hardback cover of Snowdrops by AD Miller (published by Atlantic Books) that little bit more interesting. The title is Russian slang for a corpse that is buried in the snow (revealing itself as it thaws), so the blood red type seems to suggest a supine position, heightened by the image of the trees as seen from the point of view of a body lying on the ground.
Perhaps the most conservative cover on the shortlist, Peter Dyer’s design for Half Blood Blues by Esi Edugyan (published by Serpent’s Tail) employs an elegant typeface for the book’s title.
Pigeon English by Stephen Kelman (published by Bloomsbury) has a cover by Holly Macdonald, who makes good use of negative space to evoke the outline of a young boy and, also, some pigeons.
Finally, and possibly our favourite on the list, is the first edition cover for Jamrach’s Menagerie by Carol Birch (published by Canongate). Thanks to Tom Gauld in the comments below who let us know that it’s the work of the excellent John Gray at Gray318. More of his covers at bookcoverarchive.com.
So while the Booker shortlist once again provides an interesting snapshot of the contemporary fiction market, the strength of the cover design in this year’s crop is surely also something worth celebrating.
The winner of the Man Booker prize 2011 will be announced on October 18. Read more about the shortlist, here.
CR in Print
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