Man Booker For the English Language

Mann-BookerThe Man Booker Prize has been undergoing many changes in recent years. Traditionally the prize was designated for authors from Great Britain and the Commonwealth countries, but now any authors writing in the English language are eligible. This means that the United States has yet another way to show its exceptionalism (not that it needed any reason). You probably will notice that out of the thirteen books in the ‘long list,’ five of them are from the USA. As disagreeable as this seems, I like to look at it as a subtle British wink at the United States … a reminder that America is still considered “the colonies.”

What do you think of this year’s Man Booker longlist?

  • Joshua Ferris – To Rise Again at a Decent Hour
  • Richard Flanagan – The Narrow Road to the Deep North
  • Karen Joy Fowler – We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves
  • Siri Hustvedt – The Blazing World
  • Howard Jacobson – J
  • Paul Kingsnorth – The Wake
  • David Mitchell – The Bone Clocks
  • Neel Mukherjee – The Lives of Others
  • David Nicholls – Us
  • Joseph O’Neill – The Dog
  • Richard Powers – Orfeo
  • Ali Smith – How To Be Both
  • Niall Williams – History of the Rain

And one final question: does this mean that Drums Along the Mohawk  is now a candidate for the Lost Man Booker award?

(Those of us with ties to Los Angeles share the concern for the original Booker prize that is now the Man Booker Prize; after all, we had that glorious landmark, Grauman’s Chinese Theater that suddenly becomes Mann’s Chinese Theater, and in today’s mercantile world of corporate greed, it is officially the TCL Chinese Theatre. If Sid Grauman were alive today he’d roll over in his grave.)

3 responses

  1. 🙂 it is odd, isn’t it. Joyce lived most of his adult life outside of Ireland but i don’t think he’d be considered anything other than an Irish writer. ditto for Beckett, Wilde and Shaw. I’ve always thought of Nabokov as Russian

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  2. Only 4 of the books are from the USA. I assume you’re including Joseph O Neill because he lives in the States, but he is in fact Irish (he is also tipped to win). Of the 13 novelists, 4 are American, 6 are from Britain, 2 are Irish and one is Australian. There was a lot of upset last year when they announced that they would include books in English from all over the world, mainly because there was concern that American novelists would come to dominate the prize: it will certainly change the nature of the prize, which for several years was dominated by post-colonial authors. So: no Indian, South African, Kiwi, Carribean or Canuck authors this year, and it remains to be seen what four novels COULD HAVE been on the list instead of the four American ones. Regarding the name of the prize, it has never been known simply as “the Booker Prize” (that is only how it is referred to casually). it has always had corporate sponsors. The original name was the Booker-McConnell Prize (after the company that started it). The Man Group took over sponsorship in 2002. I blogged about today’s announcement here: http://ragingfluff.wordpress.com/2014/07/23/thirteen-novels-you-need-to-pretend-you-have-read-this-summer-the-man-booker-longlist/

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    • “I assume you’re including Joseph O Neill because he lives in the States, but he is in fact Irish …”

      I run across this problem periodically. A fairly recent one involved Samuel Beckett. Then there is Joseph Conrad, or better still, Vladimir Nabokov. And what about J. M. Coetzee?

      I believe the extensive American university world trolls for non-American authors to set up residence in the States. Someone like Raymond Federman, who is decidedly French, arguably turned into a American author when he took up teaching at the University of Buffalo.

      You encounter similar confusions in things like movies: is she a Russian actress because she was born in Russia, or is she an American actress because all of her movies are American, even if some were filmed in Spain or Ireland and funded by a Japanese company?

      I’m beginning to blither … is Irving Berlin an American song writer? Is Billy Wilder an American director? I need help …

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