This coming Tuesday, on July 24, the Man Booker Prize 2018 longlist will be announced in London. It’s a pity that the Prize committee changed its eligibility rules a few years back. I favored the original sui generis eligibility criteria, where only British authors and authors from the former Commonwealth, Ireland and Zimbabwe could qualify for the competition.
Now it is open to all authors of books written in English, no matter where they come from, as long as the book they wrote was published in the UK. Distinctiveness of the competition is a thing of the past. As most expected, the American publishing industry with its financial and marketing clout has dominated the submission process. The last two winners have been American.
I think that it is time for the committee to seriously reconsider going back to the original eligibility rules and restore the unique nature of the Man Booker competition. I would like to know whether you agree or disagree with me.
I will be teaching a course on the Man Booker Prize beginning Tuesday, January 22, 2013, at the Oakton Community College Emeritus program in Skokie. I decided on teaching this class at Oakton when twenty-two people attended my presentation on the “Man Booker Prize” in Retrospect” at The Book Stall in Winnetka last April. Interest in the Man Booker grows each year in the States, especially with the popularity of the last two winners, Hilary Mantel’s Bring Up the Bodies and Julian Barnes’ The Sense of an Ending.
The Man Booker Prize is the top literary achievement in the English-speaking world outside of the United States. Novels by authors who are citizens of the Commonwealth of Nations (formerly the British commonwealth) and Ireland are selected annually for juried competition. Publishers submit novels to a Man Booker review committee each year and the judges are charged with reading about 120 novels in a six to seven time span. A long list of 12 novels is announced in July, and a shortlist of six is announced in September. The winning novel is selected in October at a ceremony in London that is growing so grand that is now getting to be known, in some circles, as the Literary Academy Awards.
I have read all the winners since competition began in 1969. And with just a handful of exceptions, I enjoyed these novels immensely. In reading many of these novels you get a literary perspective of the rise and fall of the British Empire, from the perspectives of both the colonizer and colonized.
If you have interest in taking my course, which meets from 10:00 am until 11:30 am on six consecutive Tuesdays, starting this coming January 22, please call the Oakton Emeritus office at 847-635-1414 or visit the Emeritus website at http://www.oakton.edu/emeritus.