Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Man Booker Musings...

Firstly, a big congratulations to Alice Munro for winning The Man Booker International Prize today! It did make me think though as for some reason (I should undoubtedly be ashamed) I thought that the Man Booker Prize was International. However after doing some research I found the non-international Man Booker eligibility really interesting though I did question a few things which I have added in italics.

- Any full-length novel, written by a citizen of the Commonwealth, the Republic of Ireland or Zimbabwe is eligible. Such a book must be a unified and substantial work. Entry for books is dealt with in Rule 4. (Why only the countries mentioned here???)

- Authors must be living at the time of the award. (What if they died after the longlist is announced, do they automatically get disqualified and the book withdrawn? What if they died the day of the announcement? Please note I am wishing no authors ill, I just find that random!)

- No English translation of a book written originally in any other language is eligible (So are they saying its only English speaking countries that can put a book forward as that goes again the very first point and what about America? )

- Self published books are not eligible where the author is the publisher or where a company has been specifically setup to publish that book. (Not very promising for struggling new talent but then they probably can't afford the £5000 for the publicity publsihers contribute to any longlisted book.)

- All shortlisted books will be made available by publishers as e-books within two weeks of the shortlist announcement. Extracts from the e-books should be freely accessible for downloads. (Now I never knew e-books could count, that’s amazed me. This also means Margaret Atwood’s new book wont be in the long list as it’s out in September and I thought that would be a definite long lister at least)

- Children's books will only be accepted on the condition that they have also been published by an adult imprint within the specified dates. (Never knew this, very interesting, but has it ever actually happened. Can you imagine Harry Potter having won the Man Booker?)- No entry shall be ineligible because its author has won either the prize or any other prize previously. (But if it has won other awards does that help?)

I also found this really useful “United Kingdom publishers may enter up to two full-length novels, with scheduled publication dates between 1 October 2008 and 30 September 2009. In addition, any title by an author who has previously won the Booker or Man Booker prize, and any title by an author who has been shortlisted in the last five years may be submitted.” Now I know all the above I can have a proper go at guessing who will make it onto the long list of thirteen before the 28th of July 2009. Is anyone else up for that game? I will do a blog on it again nearer the time. I have to say I am predicting already that The Children’s Book by AS Byatt (which popped through my letter box yesterday) will quite, quite possibly win, the signs are all then. I will let you know my thoughts in a week or so when I have read it but that’s an early guess from me.

Back to today’s announcement, I wondered what differentiates the Man Booker Prize each year from the Man Booker International Prize. The obvious answer, to me any way, is that the International Prize is more for an author than for a piece of work. The site though makes the eligibility a bit vague “Any living author who has published fiction either originally in English or whose work is generally available in translation in the English language. The winner is chosen solely at the discretion of the judging panel; there are no submissions from publishers.” Isn’t that a little bit too open?

Now for the winner herself… naturally I now want to read some Munro and wondered if any of you had and if so what did you think? What would you recommend?

8 comments:

farmlanebooks said...

Yes, the rules are very interesting!

I have never read anything by Alice Munro, although I think I will at some point.

My guess for the Booker long list is The Wilderness by Samantha Harvey, although I think your guess of Byatt is very likely to happen too.

Are you planning to read the longlist? I'm going to read the entire shortlist when it comes out, but I'm only going to read something from the longlist if it really appeals.

Sandy Nawrot said...

I'm amazed there's anybody left to participate after those rules have sifted out 95% of all books.

Steph said...

I have a collection of Alice Munro stories sitting in my TBR pile, but I haven't got to them yet. I did read one of her stories in my Grade 11 English class, and in Canada (where I'm from, at least originally), she's considered to be the reigning master of the short story (actually, I think she may hold this title by others outside of Canada, but I wanted to qualify such a huge claim!).

I'm ashamed to admit that until you posted this, I had thought Munro was dead... but then I remembered she had merely retired a few years back. Or, apparently, not!

Candy Schultz said...

If my experience with Booker lists past is any indication Byatt should win. Her book is fabulous.

megan said...

Coming from Australia, I think having an award for Commonwealth Writers is great - though I didn't know about the translation thing!

I was so pleased that Munro won! I love her stories, so much that I have no particular favourite. I think you can dip in and out of any of her books anywhere along the line and be completely amazed by what she can put in to a single moment.

Sarah said...

I love Munro's writing and was glad to see her awarded! I'd start with her first collection, Dance of the happy shades and read on from there.

It will be interesting to see the Booker list, I only hope it's more interesting to me than last year's!

Savidge Reads said...

Jackie - I am starting The Wilderness tomorrow and have high hopes for it after your recommendation. Its a subject close to my heart too.

Steph - I am not the biggest short story fan so am hoping your canadian master can cure me of that.

Megan - I agree on the Commonweath thing completely, I just had no idea of all these rules. Makes guessing oddly a bit easier. Your enthusiasm for Munro is giving me hope too.

Sarah - I shall look out for dance of the happy shades (what a wonderful title) when I next go book hunting.

J.T. Oldfield said...

Thanks for sharing the results of your investigation. That's fascinating. Regarding the commonwealth vs. English thing: does that mean that a book originally published in Welsh or Hindi does not count even though they are regionally acceptable? And technically I believe that the state of Virginia is still called the Commonwealth of Virginia (I learned that some place a long time ago, so maybe I'm wrong), but the rest of the U.S. is not. Something about a Revolution or whatever... ;)