The man sit­ting in judg­ment on the world’s finest writ­ers

The Jewish Chronicle - - NEWS -

He is clear, how­ever, that this is not the way for­ward for the Man Booker In­ter­na­tional.

“Some­thing which the chair of judges [Nick Bar­ley, di­rec­tor of the Ed­in­burgh In­ter­na­tional Book Fes­ti­val] said in our very first meet­ing was that he thinks it’s im­por­tant for ev­ery book to get proper at­ten­tion from the judges — that ev­ery book is read prop­erly by all of us. This is cer­tainly the most labour­in­ten­sive way of doing it but it’s also the most rig­or­ous and fair way.”

The six au­thors short­listed for the prize have just been an­nounced. They in­clude two giants of Is­raeli lit­er­a­ture — David Gross­man and Amos Oz.

A ma­jor chal­lenge of the judg­ing process is how to com­pare books that are not in any way alike. How can one, for ex­am­ple, look at a moody, at­mo­spheric novella from Venezuela and an epic fan­tasy novel from Nor­way and de­cide which is bet­ter?

“We’re try­ing to fig­ure out what it is a book’s try­ing to do and then how well it does it,” ex­plains Mr Hahn. ‘We’re try­ing to work out how well re­alised th­ese books are on what­ever terms they’re at­tempt­ing to re­alise them­selves.”

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