BRITS SNUBBED BY THE BOOKER AGAIN
Just one still in running after ditching of old ‘colonial’ rules
ONLY one British writer has made the shortlist for this year’s Booker Prize – fuelling concerns about the opening-up of the competition to non-Commonwealth talent.
But Gaby Wood, of the Booker Prize Foundation, said it would be problems with reverting to a difficult to go back to the Commonwealth framework. original entry criteria. ‘It is essentially a colonial
She added: ‘I think a reversion framework. I don’t know that is problematic. I prefer the this is the right time to do that – idea of evolution. I think there if there ever is a good time.’ are political as well as literary This year will see Nadifa
Mohamed vying for the £50,000 prize in November for her novel, The Fortune Men, about a real petty criminal wrongfully convicted of murder in 1950s Cardiff.
The author, who came to the UK from Somalia in 1986, will go up against three American writers, a South African and a Sri Lankan. Last year’s shortlist was also dominated by US authors.
The prize was set up to celebrate British and Commonwealth writers but entry rules
were changed in 2013 to allow any submissions published in English by a UK publisher.
Sir Kazuo Ishiguro, the British Nobel winner was longlisted for his eighth novel, Klara and the Sun, but did not make the shortlist. Chigozie Obioma, who is one of the judges and twice shortlisted himself, insisted nationalities were not taken into account. ‘The Booker Prize is the great leveller,’ he said. ‘We look at not just what the writers are saying but how they are saying it.’ Maya Jasanoff, chairman of the 2021 judges and a professor of history at Harvard, said: ‘I find it pretty remarkable in the 21st century that people are talking about former British empires as appropriate containers in which to think about literature.’
Miss Wood said more would be done if it was ‘felt that British writers in particular or Commonwealth writers are not well enough supported’.