The Man Booker Prize Goes Global
Well, we sort of knew it was going to happen. The Sunday Times this weekend gave us the heads-up that this shift was imminent, and today we've had confirmation - the Man Booker Prize has finally opened its arms and embraced the rest of the English speaking (or, more accurately, writing) world. Whereas previously authors had to have come from either one of the Commonwealth countries, Ireland or Zimbabwe, now any and all novels written in the English language will be eligible - regardless of the author's provenance.
Now this is huge news for the prize's international profile, but raises some interesting questions as to what the typical prizewinner is set to look like in coming years. How are the judges to arrive at even a longlist, when one considers the startling volume of writing which this development now opens up for consideration? Given the frankly HUGE number of novels published in America each year, how will the Prize prevent the lists from being too Americana-heavy? Will the US heavyweights such as Frantzen, Safran Foer, Tartt and the like simply clean up every year from now on in?
Obviously we don't have the answer to these questions - but they are certainly things that the organising committee of the Prize will need to take into careful consideration. It certainly seems less likely, at present, that some of the Prize's more unexpected winners would stand much of a chance when arrayed against some of the big guns in global writing which the US produces...