A slap at Philip Roth – or a dig at American writers?
A Booker International Prize judge quits when the award goes to Philip Roth.
Is the Booker International Prize controversy a dig at American writers?Skip to next paragraph
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Sure, literary prizes often stir controversy, but this year’s Man Booker International Prize incited a firestorm when a judge withdrew from the judging panel over its decision to award American Philip Roth the fourth Man Booker Prize and $100,000 award.
Author and publisher Carmen Callil retired from the panel Wednesday following its announcement that Mr. Roth, cited as the “most decorated living American writer,” would be the prize’s fourth recipient.
“I don’t rate him as a writer at all,” Ms. Callil told the Guardian newspaper. “I made it clear that I wouldn’t have put him on the longlist, so I was amazed when he stayed there.” She went on to say that Roth “goes on and on and on about the same subject in almost every single book. It’s as though he’s sitting on your face and you can’t breathe.”
Awarded every two years to a living author of any nationality for general achievement in fiction, either published in English or widely available in English translation, the Man Booker International Prize is itself rooted in controversy. It came into being just six years ago in 2005 after a hotly contested debate in Britain over opening up the original Booker Prize, traditionally reserved for Commonwealth writers, to all English-language writers. If the prize were opened, Britons feared, Americans would dominate the contest. Thus, the creation of the Booker International: a separate, biennial, international award that would complement the original Man Booker Prize.