Man Booker Prize will now be open to any novel written in English

The prestigious UK writing prize will now be open to any works that are published in the UK and were written in English.

By , Staff Writer

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    Two of this year's nominees for the Man Booker Prize are 'The Lowland' by Jhumpa Lahiri and 'The Testament of Mary' by Colm Tóibín.
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Well, Man Booker Prize literary director Ion Trewin did say there was more to the story when he was asked whether Americans would qualify for the award next year.

Those behind the prize have announced that not only will American writers be able to receive the Booker next year but any novel that is released in English and is published in the UK could get the prize starting in 2014.

Before now, only writers from the UK, Ireland, or countries belonging to the Commonwealth of Nations qualified for the Booker.

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When rumors swirled last week that the Booker would be open to American writers starting next year, Trewin told the Guardian, “The information which is currently in circulation is incomplete” and said the announcement would come this week.

Booker Prize Foundation chair Jonathan Taylor said in a statement that the trustees originally considered making a separate prize for American writers but that “at the end of the process we were wary of jeopardizing or diluting the existing Man Booker Prize. Instead we agreed that the prize, which for 45 years has been the touchstone for literary fiction written in English of the highest quality, could enhance its prestige and reputation through expansion, rather than by setting up a separate prize... We are embracing the freedom of English in its versatility, in its vigor, in its vitality and in its glory wherever it may be. We are abandoning the constraints of geography and national boundaries.”

In addition, the requirements for how many works can be submitted for consideration by a publisher have also changed. If a publisher has had more titles make the longlist for the Booker recently, it will be able to submit more works. Publishers who have not recently had a work nominated will only be allowed to send in one title, while those with one or two titles that made the longlist within the past five years will be allowed two and so on, with a maximum of publishers who have had five or more titles nominated being allowed to submit four works.

Taylor said this rule “recognizes literary achievement” and that the new requirements were brought on partially by the amount of books judges are usually required to read, which he said “has long been a concern.”

“We are reasonably confident that the new arrangement will be slightly less challenging in terms of reading than the 151 books the judges considered this year,” he said.

To those writers who are worried more entries will mean authors from the UK are less likely to win the Booker, Trewin said, “Increased competition will be an even greater accolade,” according to the Telegraph.

When the possibility of American writers being included in consideration for the Booker was discussed last week, many writers were displeased, with current nominee Jim Crace telling the Independent, “There’s something in there that you would lose if you open it up to American author” and former winner Howard Jacobson telling the Telegraph that such a move would be the “wrong decision.”

The shortlist for this year’s prize was recently released and the winner will be announced on Oct. 15.

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