Will the Man Booker Prize Drop American Writers?

The Man Booker Prize now includes writers from a greater geographical affiliation.  This expansion has been both appreciated and condemned by publishers and authors across the globe.


Kabir |The New Leam


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Man Booker Prize / Image : Twitter

One of the most revered and a respected award in the field of literature has been the Man Booker Prize. Recently there has been a great deal of argument regarding the inclusion and exception of authors from being counted for the prize.  It was designed in its beginning to include only writers from the Common Wealth nations and Ireland but over the last some years the inclusion of American authors has also been in fashion. The practice of including US authors has been condemned by the world community which has urged the institution that gives the award, to stop this trend. 

The idea of including authors from the US was designed to make the prize more international but it has been seen that instead of making it more inclusive, this has indeed made other authors lose a place because of excess Anglo-American authors. This decision has received diverse responses and both writers and publishers have expressed their concerns on this issue. This prize was originally designed to take English writers from various countries and allow them a platform from where they could make their voices heard to the global readers.

In fact a letter has been sent to the award authorities asking them to rethink this decision of counting non-Common Wealth and non-Irish writers pointing out to the fact that in an unequal society like ours it is extremely necessary that countries that are non-English speaking also get a platform to bring forward their creativity.

A portion of the letter states “In a globalised but economically unequal world, it is more important than ever that we hear voices not from the centres. The rule change has made this much less likely to happen,” the letter reads, finishing with a plea: “As concerned friends, and as publishers who worry about a homogenised literary future, we urge you to reconsider your decision”.

The Man Booker Prize Foundation replied that they have never made the prize inclusive with the purpose of allowing just American authors. They urged that they wanted to make the prize open to authors despite their geographical boundaries as long as they wrote in English and had their book published in the UK. The Foundation also reasserted that diversity has not suffered. It was argued that in today’s international world literature had to expand.

The Man Booker Prize is a well-known and honourable prize, despite this we also need to understand the fact that an award or a prize is not what a writer writes for and it is not the ultimate judgement over his or her skills as a creative person. The obsession in erstwhile colonized countries for an acknowledgement of their ability by a European/American authority is widely seen and the time is ripe when we need to go beyond it.

It is true that in non-English speaking countries there have to be more established platforms for the acknowledgement of literary creation but we don’t have to depend on western sources to do this.  Our own nations can nurture and establish environments where creative talent not just in literature but across disciplines can flourish.   This alone shall enable us to become more confident and express openly.  The expansion of the Man Booker Prize is only an indicator of the way our own credentials are allowed to be determined by an alien body. Let creative minds restore their own self confidence and write not to get awarded but to contribute to the richness in literature.

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