The Man Booker... international?
Stuart Kelly grumbles about the 2007 Man Booker International Prize shortlist:
So I was eager to see the 2007 shortlist. When I did, bemused boredom swiftly turned to gnawing irritation. For the record, the novelists contending this year are Chinua Achebe, Margaret Atwood, John Banville, Peter Carey, Don DeLillo, Carlos Fuentes, Doris Lessing, Ian McEwan, Harry Mulisch, Alice Munro, Michael Ondaatje, Amos Oz, Philip Roth, Salman Rushdie and Michel Tournier. One thing is immediately conspicuous. You've probably heard of most of them.
There are only four non-English speaking authors. There is nobody from China, Japan, Russia, South America, Scandinavia, Eastern Europe, the Indian subcontinent or the Arabic world. Moreover, every author on the list who is eligible for the usual Man Booker has either won, or been shortlisted, for that award. "Diverse in nationality, language, themes and techniques", as the press release trumpets? Hardly.
In The Guardian, James English asks:
Surely it is a bad thing to have all these new prizes sprouting like weeds even while the established ones are themselves dividing and reproducing, generating offshoots and offspring that have us speaking of "baby Bookers" or of the Man Booker "family" of awards? Surely all this must be a symptom of literary soil rendered artistically arid by decades of global free-marketism and a superheating multinational machinery of hype?
Disappointingly, having asked the question, he answers "Nay".