Man Booker Prize Playing Field Increases 2014

Man Booker Prize

The rules for the issuance of the 2014 Man Booker Prize have changed, increasing the playing field to encompass all nations. The Man Booker Prize is given to a writer who has written the best fiction of the year, according to its U.K. judges. The award is monetary, 50,000 pounds, the equivalent of over $82,000. The winner also receives an additional 2,500 pounds and a special designer copy of their book.

The Man Booker Prize longlist consists of 14 works of fiction that have been chosen by a group of judges. This year, the list includes one writer from Australia and for Americans. Prior to 2014 and for the last 43 years, only writers from the U.K. and Zimbabwe could participate.

Last year, the Booker committee decided to change the rules, according to Ion Trewin, the Literary Director of the Booker Prize Foundation. The rules were changed, he said, because the committee wanted to offer the readers a larger variety of English fiction, one that exhibits freedom, different viewpoints and a lot of energy.

The original mandate for the Booker Prize (the original name of the prize), was simple, according to Trewin. It was for an author to write the best English novel of that particular year in the opinion of the judges. Their aim was, and still is, to bring quality fiction up to a higher standard to attract a more intelligent audience.

Naturally, the winner of the prize could expect their book’s sales to increase tremendously. The other 13 members of the longlist could expect an increase in sales as well. The Man Booker Prize is probably the world’s most important literary accolade. Increasing the playing field for the 2014 award makes this it even more prestigious.

The Booker Prize Foundation offers another writing incentive, the Man Booker International Prize. It is offered every two years, since 2005, to an international author whose works are either written in English or have been translated into English. The winner receives 60,000 pounds.

While the Man Booker Prize focuses on one winning novel, the International prize encompasses a writer’s complete body of work. Philip Roth, Alice Munro and Lydia Davis have been honored with this award, along with two others, a poet from Albania and novelist from Nigeria.

The 2014 long list was announced on July 23. It will be pared down to six entries by the judges and announced on September 9; the winner will be announced on 14 October. This year’s committee is chaired by A.C. Grayling, a writer and philosopher. He has written over 30 books, his most recent being The God Argument.

2014’s Man Booker Award Prize may be won by one of four US authors now that the playing field has increased. Those authors are  Joshua Ferris, who wrote To Rise Again at a Decent Hour; K.J. Fowler’s We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves; Joseph O’ Neill, writer of The Dog and Orfeo written by Richard Powers. One Australian has joined the ranks, Richard Flanagan, who authored The Narrow Road to the Deep North. There are also six British authors in the race and one from Ireland, Niall Williams, who wrote History of the Rain.

By Dennis De Rose

The Man Booker Prize
The Independent

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