February 20, 2018
This year, there’ll be a Man Booker Prize for best Man Booker Prize-winner
by Stephanie DeLuca
All that glitters is gold. The folks behind the Man Booker Prize, the UK’s leading prize for novels, has announced that this year they’ll be awarding a “Golden” Man Booker, a one-time-only award that will determine the best work of fiction from their half-century of winners. Those are some serious bragging rights.
As Sian Cain wrote last week at the Guardian:
The new award… will be judged by five judges and then voted for by the public. Each judge has been assigned a decade, from which they will select a best winner to create a “Golden Five” shortlist… The five books will then be put to a public vote, with readers having one month to pick their favourite and decide the overall winner…
The “Golden Five” shortlist will be announced at the Hay Literary Festival on May 26, with the final winner to be crowned at the Man Booker 50 Festival on July 8th in London.
The five judges are Robert McCrum, the former literary editor of the Observer, who’ll handle winning novels from the seventies; poet Lemn Sissay, in charge of the eighties; novelist Kamila Shamsie (whom we’ve written about a lot lately), judging the books of the nineties; broadcaster and novelist Simon Mayo, tackling the aughts; and poet Hollie McNish judging the 2010s.
Cain favors novelist and occasional sit-com star Salman Rushdie, whose Midnight’s Children nabbed the 1981 Booker, 1993’s “Booker of Bookers” (in honor of the prize’s first quarter-century), and was proclaimed the “Best of the Booker” in 2008, when the prize turned forty.
British publishers can likely rest easy: of the fifty-one qualified candidates, only two books are written by American authors, so despite the pattern of the last two years, a Yankee upset seems unlikely.
Organizers hope, of course, that the meta-Booker will raise general awareness of the Man Booker. It also provides us with quite the reading list. Time to place your bets — literally.
Stephanie DeLuca is the director of publicity at Melville House.