A Look Back at the Man Booker Prize 46-Year History
The Man Booker Prize is one of the most prestigious literary prizes in the world and is definitely the most sought-after prize by British and Commonwealth authors. This annual prize is awarded to the best full-length English-language novel written by a member of the Commonwealth Nations, Ireland, and Zimbabwe.
This year’s shortlist has been announced and marks an historical moment for the Booker Prize as it is the first year in its 46-year history in which there have been more female authors on the shortlist than males: 4:2. The prize in the past has had its fair share of feminist criticisms, which may have been one of the reasons why the Orange Prize for Fiction was created – a prize similar to the Booker, but only for female authors.
The Booker of Bookers
Let’s start with arguably the best novel to have ever won the coveted Booker Prize: Salman Rushdie’s Midnight’s Children. It won the prize back in 1981 and has since gone on to win the Booker of Bookers prize twice. The Booker team decided for its 25-year and 40-year anniversaries to do the Booker of Bookers prize, which was awarded to the best book to ever win the prize. Rushdie’s magnum opus won it both times.
What’s the future of the Booker? Will we soon be knocking on the door of bøger online?
The Multiple Winners
Three writers have won the Booker Prize twice, and one of these authors may well have her third win in the near future. These writers are: J.G Farrell for Troubles in 1970 and The Siege of Krishnapur in 1973; J.M. Coetzee for Life & Times of Michael in 1983 and Disgrace in 1999; and, finally, Hilary Mantel for Wolf Hall in 2009 and Bring up the Bodies in this year. These two novels are parts one and two of her Thomas Cromwell trilogy, chronicling his rise and fall from power in the treacherous court of Henry VIII. The final instalment will be released within the next three years and is already the favourite to win that year’s Booker. Her work has led people such as the Man Booker chairman, Peter Stothard, to claim that she is “the greatest modern English prose writer working today.” High praise, indeed.
The literary world has been in an uproar this year as the Booker organisers have announced that, come 2015, any English-language novel will be up for consideration for the prize. This hasn’t sat well with the British literary establishment and has led to resignations and boycotts. People fear that the prize will lose that special something that makes it unique among literary prizes. People fear that we will be inundated with American novels and that America will seep into British literary work like it has with music and films. Some argue that this could be good, however, as it will bring to our attention some more obscure writers who we haven’t heard of before. No one could say that a new David Foster Wallace or Cormac McCarthy would be a bad thing.
Some people cynically claim “what’s next?” Will we start allowing Russian writers? What about Danish writers? Will we be searching for bøger online? The best advice is to let it happen and see where it takes us. It might make take us somewhere interesting and unexpected. The Danish Rushdie may well be waiting, pen in hand, to change the literary world. This might well be the best thing to happen to the Booker since Rushdie decided to write Midnight’s Children.
James writes on a variety of specialist and niche subjects such health and histroy. His recent article entry referencing bøger online was well received and has been referenced many times. He consistently researches news, views and innovation in his specialised field and presents his findings and thoughts with clarity and foresight.