I don’t know much about the Man Booker Prize except they pick some pretty good books. Since I’m reading Wolf Hall, the 2009 winner, I thought I’d do some research. Turns out, I might have a chance of winning a version of the prize someday. Fingers crossed!
The Man Booker Prize began in 1968 and aims to reward the best novel of the year written by a citizen of the Commonwealth or the Republic of Ireland. The Man Booker judges are selected from the country’s finest critics, writers and academics to maintain the consistent excellence of the prize. The winner of the Man Booker Prize receives £50,000 and both the winner and the shortlisted authors are guaranteed a worldwide readership plus a dramatic increase in book sales.
A new article on the Man Booker website shows how much the prize has benefited Hilary Mantel.
Previous winners have been:
Aravind Adiga – The White Tiger (2008)
Anne Enright – The Gathering (2007)
Kiran Desai – The Inheritance of Loss (2006)
A personal favorite of mine was “Life of Pi” by Yann Martel, awarded in 2002.
It would be fun to be a judge of a competition like this. Read a bunch of books, debate them, then give someone an award and some cash? Done. But, like all people who make such important decisions, there could be a backlash. Louise Doughty hates those annoying male academics. Luckily, despite having my MFA, I’m not officially an academic. Then there is the nerve-wracking moment when I’d have to make my list public. People might judge the books I liked best. Probably better to keep that under lock and key. And once I had been a judge I’d have to remember to keep my mouth shut about my crazy opinions. That might be frustrating.
But if I can’t be a judge for the Man Booker Prize – and this is likely since I live stateside – I can hope against hopes to win the Man Booker International Prize. Granted it’s every two years instead of every year. And the pool of competition is a bit larger since all non-British books could be included. But there’s a chance. I’d be in the prestigious company of Alice Munro, Chinua Achebe and Ismail Kadare. (There are only three winners so far; it’s a newish prize.) A girl can dream.
For a quick update, I am loving Wolf Hall so far. I’ll post some more about the book itself later this week. It’s 500+ pages so it might take the full two weeks before I get to buy my next book. (I already know what I’m going to get!)