Australian author Peter Carey, who has twice won the Booker Prize for Fiction, slammed the decision to open the Commonwealth award to US writers, as judges prepared to announce the 2014 winner on Tuesday.
Two US authors are among the six nominees for 2014 Man Booker, one of the highest-profile prizes in English-language literature, with the winner to be announced in a glitzy ceremony at London’s Guildhall late on Tuesday night.
“There was and there is a real Commonwealth culture. It’s different. America doesn’t really feel to be a part of that,” Carey, 71, told the Guardian newspaper.
The annual Man Booker Prize was until now awarded for the best original full-length novel written in English by a citizen of the Commonwealth, Ireland or Zimbabwe. But, in 2014, the judges widened the field to any author writing originally in English, so long as their novel is published in Britain within the 12-month entry period. Opening the prize, called the Man Booker since 2002, to US novelists was a bid to establish the prize as the English-speaking world’s foremost literary award.
“I find it unimaginable that the Pulitzer or the National Book Award people in the United States would ever open their prizes to Brits and Australians. They wouldn’t,” said Carey, one of only three novelists to have scooped the prize twice.
The winner of the prize receives £50,000, but the award which began in 1969 guarantees a huge upsurge in book sales and a worldwide readership.
Bookmakers have put Britain’s Indian-born Neel Mukherjee as the 5/2 favourite for The Lives of Others, ahead of Richard Flanagan of Australia with The Narrow Road to the Deep North on 3/1 and then Britain’s Ali Smith at 4/1 for How to be Both.
Britain’s 2010 winner Howard Jacobson is fourth-favourite at 9/2 with J, ahead of US contenders Karen Joy Fowler on 11/2 with We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves and Joshua Ferris at 8/1 for To Rise Again at a Decent Hour.
“Oddly this year, the American writers are the two outsiders,” Graham Sharpe, spokesman for bookmakers William Hill, told AFP. “Neel Mukherjee has become the clear favourite,” he said.