Read 126 nov­els and come up with a short­list of six — the job of a lit­er­ary award pan­el­list is not easy

The Jewish Chronicle - - NEWS - IN­TER­VIEW BY SU­SAN REUBEN

DANIEL HAHN, one of the five judges of the Man Booker In­ter­na­tional Prize, has had to get through quite a lot of read­ing re­cently. Specif­i­cally, he has had to read 126 nov­els trans­lated into English in the course of four months. That’s around a book a day. So how did he do it? “Quickly,” he says. “It’s dif­fi­cult, and it makes you a lit­tle bit crazy… and it doesn’t get any eas­ier. Read­ing a book a day is per­fectly pos­si­ble so long as you don’t have a huge num­ber of other things to do. The dif­fi­culty is that we all have other jobs. I, for ex­am­ple, am a trans­la­tor.”

But does it re­ally make sense for the judg­ing panel of a lit­er­ary prize to have to per­form such an ex­tra­or­di­nary feat of read­ing? Does it al­low the judges to fo­cus suf­fi­ciently on each book?

Mr Hahn, whose fa­ther is Jewish, ac­knowl­edges that not all prize­judg­ing works this way. For some awards, there is a kind of triage process where books are read by some of the panel, and passed on to the rest only if they are deemed wor­thy.

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