That is the question on everyone’s lips as newspapers and bloggers speculated whether or not the Man Booker Prize will be extended to American authors in 2014. Whilst the decision will remain undecided until Wednesday (18th) of this week, it hasn’t stopped the likes of The Guardian and The Bookseller reporting the possibility of the rule change to one of the world’s most prestigious literary prizes.
For the past 45 years, the Man Booker Prize has recognised the works of authors in the UK, Ireland and other countries of the Commonwealth. Extending the Prize out to authors across the pond has received mixed opinions. Writer/broadcaster Melvin Bragg compared the possible change to “a British company being taken over by some worldwide conglomerate”. The main concern is that allowing American writers to be a part of the prize will drastically diminish the award’s identity and its link with Britain.
On the other hand, allowing the Booker to go Stateside will ensure that the Prize receives more recognition internationally. Scott Pack, Me And My Big Mouth, wrote a good piece outlining 10 points about the move and pointed out that the USA is the only English-speaking country which isn’t currently included in the Man Booker. Pack also suggests that the Man Booker could end up stealing “some of the Baileys Prize or Orange Prize’s thunder” as they already include writers from the USA in addition to other worldwide authors. Michael Bhaskar has also written a piece on The Bookseller: ‘Keep it special‘ speculating his thoughts on the possible change.
I have mixed feelings about the possible change. I can see how it could be beneficial to the Prize itself in terms of promoting writing from undiscovered authors and small independent publishers. But on the other hand, the Man Booker Prize creates a sense of identity in British literature. The world is so inundated with global products, corporations, organisations etc. that I feel they can sometimes become disenfranchised to the point where people may actually lose interest. I personally believe that people like to find the undiscovered and I feel that the Man Booker Prize could still appeal to new people without the help of American authors. Moreover, there are already other prizes (such as those mentioned previously) which credits American authors and their writing, so why not keep the Man Booker the way it is?
More on this on Wednesday when the decision will be finalised… In the meantime, here is a list of this year’s Man Booker Prize shortlist and reasons why it’s the best shortlist in a decade…
- NoViolet Bulawayo We Need New Names (Chatto)
- Eleanor Catton The Luminaries (Granta)
- Jim Crace Harvest (Picador)
- Jhumpa Lahiri The Lowland (Bloomsbury)
- Ruth Ozeki A Tale for the Time Being (Canongate)
- Colm Toibin The Testament of Mary (Viking)