Wednesday, September 18, 2013

The Booker Prize

There's a bit of a fuss brewing about the opening up of the Booker Prize to American novelists. Previously, it has been open to works written in English from the UK, the Commonwealth, Ireland and Zimbabwe. Hmmm. That's not a particularly easy grouping to remember is it? Basically, it's the old empire. Well, in that case, why not include the US, which was also, once, part of the British Empire?

There seems to be something peculiarly insular about the naysaying that's going on, and also somewhat defeatist. The general thrust of the debate seems to be "well, the Americans will win every time, now". Maybe that's true. If it is, maybe it won't be a bad thing for UK and Commonwealth and Irish and Zimbabwean writing to face some stiffer opposition. But is it true? Certainly, we probably won't see slight works like Julian Barnes' A Sense of an Ending or Anne Enright's The Gathering winning, but that would be a very good thing. We would still, though, see major authors like William Golding, Peter Carey, JM Coetzee et al winning. And winning against the best of the US.

All in all, it seems pretty exciting to me.

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