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UK publishers urge Man Booker Prize organisers to reconsider rule change

Several UK publishers have signed a letter urging organisers of the Man Booker Prize to reconsider the rule change in 2013 that made US-authored titles eligible for the prize, reports the Bookseller.

The letter, which was led by John Murray UK publisher Mark Richards and has received signatures from 30 UK editors as of 31 January, argues that the decision creates a ‘homogenised literary future’ dominated by ‘Ango-American writers at the expense of others’.

The letter also argues that the change has lessened the prize’s impact on US sales, with just 48% of sales of last year’s winner, Lincoln in the Bardo (George Saunders, Bloomsbury), generated after the Booker win, compared with The Luminaries (Eleanor Catton, Granta), which saw its sales increase 12 times.

Picador UK publisher Paul Baggaley and Profile Books managing director Andrew Franklin told the Bookseller they were among the publishers that supported the letter.

In its response, the Man Booker Prize Foundation welcomed the debate but stated the rule change was not to ‘specifically include American writers’, but to allow writers ‘of any nationality, regardless of geography, to enter the prize providing that they are writing in English and published in the UK’.

‘Moreover, clear trends cannot be drawn from a mere four years of data,’ said a spokesperson for the foundation. ‘The judges of the Man Booker Prize for Fiction are charged with finding the best novel of the year, in their opinion, written in English. The trustees believe that this mission cannot be constrained or compromised by national boundaries.’


Category: International news