Saturday, March 31, 2018

A Prize of Prizes in the Book World?

The Guardian has an interesting piece on how there has been a significant backlash against the Man Booker Prize having been opened up to Americans:

The piece makes the case well. But if the Booker does revert to being a "Britain and the Commonwealth" prize, let me suggest that a new prize be organized: a prize winner's prize. (Indeed, even if the Booker remains open to Americans there might be good reason to start a prize of this sort.) Such a prize would work in much the same way as does the Champion's League in soccer: the winners of the world's top prizes for a work of fiction in English would each be eligible, and a separate jury would judge which novel they thought to be the best of the best. Or, eligibility could be expanded to allow all the books shortlisted for any of the prizes to be eligible; that would spark some heated debate if a novel that had only been shortlisted for an award won the prize of prizes. (In much the same way, the Champions League also admits some runners-up.)

Which prizes would be included? The Booker, obviously. The Pulitzer and/or the National Book Award from the US. The Dublin International Book Award. The Giller Prize and/or the Governor General's Award from Canada. The Miles Franklin Literary Award from Australia. The Costa (formerly the Whitbread) Best Novel in Britain and Ireland. The Irish Book Award for Novel of the Year. The Acorn Foundation Prize for Fiction (New Zealand). It would be important too not to leave out the annual awards from Asia and Africa--awards such as the UJ Prize for South African Writing in English, the Nigeria Prize for Literature (Fiction), the DSC Prize for South Asian Literature, and (from India) the Crossword Book Award (Fiction).

Even if the Booker stays as it is, a Prize of Prizes would be a good way of drawing more attention to books of interest from around the world.

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