Man Booker discusses prize entry rules

Man Booker discusses prize entry rules

Man Booker Prize director Ion Trewin has said the award has discussed changing its entry requirements in the past year, but is sticking with its existing rules “for the moment”.

Imprints can only submit two titles apiece for consideration, leading to some difficult decisions for publishers, although other titles may be called in by the judges. Meanwhile, only authors from the Commonwealth, Republic of Ireland or Zimbabwe are eligible, unlike, for example, with the new Folio Prize, which is accepting any book written in English.

Trewin told The Bookseller that there were no plans to change the current rules, although he acknowledged: “We are constantly discussing this and have done so in the past year,” adding that the prize organisers would be “very foolish” not to do so.

He said: “The coming together of Random House and Penguin doesn’t alter things, as every imprint can continue to submit two titles. The problem of non-simultaneous publication between the UK and US is one of the reasons why [we limit geographic submissions], because we are a contemporary prize making the award in the year the books are published. Admitting any writer who writes in English isn’t easy while—even with e-books—still there is often a gap between the US and UK. It’s the reason we haven’t taken that step.”

Trewin said there was an “annual” discussion about the number of books the prize asks its judges to read (around 140 each year), which is behind the reason for imposing a limit on submissions. “One of the USPs of the prize is that we ask judges to read everything [rather than parcelling out the books between them],” he noted. “We’ve always felt sometimes something gets discovered in a way that might not otherwise emerge.”

He added: “If there seems a good reason for making a change, and a way to do it, we would.”

The shortlist for the Man Booker 2013 will be announced tomorrow (10th September), whittled down from a 13-strong longlist which includes novels by NoViolet Bulawayo, Eleanor Catton, Jim Crace, Colm Tóibín, Charlotte Mendelson and Jhumpa Lahiri.