The Booker Prize Foundation has revealed a new prize to mark its 50th anniversary which will put previous winners across five decades into contention for a one-off award.
The Golden Man Booker prize will return the spotlight to 51 past winners in a bid to discover which has best "stood the test of time" and "remains relevant to readers today".
Among the literary heavyweights vying for the gong are: from the 1970s, John Berger and David Storey; from the 1980s, William Golding, Salman Rushdie and Kazuo Ishiguro; from the 1990s, Ian McEwan and Pat Barker; from the noughties, Margaret Atwood and Yann Martel; and, from the past decade's winners, Marlon James and Paul Beatty.
The ultimate winner, whose fiction will be crowned the best of the last five decades of the prize, will have been shortlisted by one of five judges and then voted for by the public.
The five judges, who have been charged with choosing what, in his or her opinion, is the best winner of a given decade, are: writer and editor Robert McCrum (1970s); poet Lemn Sissay MBE (1980s); novelist Kamila Shamsie (1990s); broadcaster and novelist Simon Mayo (2000s); and poet Hollie McNish (2010s).
The judges' "Golden Five" shortlist will be announced at the Hay Festival on 26th May 2018, after which the five books will then be put to a month-long public vote from 26th May to 25th June on the Man Booker Prize website to decide the overall winner, which will be announced at the Man Booker 50 Festival on 8th July 2018.
Baroness Helena Kennedy, chair of the Booker Prize Foundation, said: "The very best fiction endures and resonates with readers long after it is written. I’m fascinated to see what our panel of excellent judges – including writers and poets, broadcasters and editors – and the readers of today make of the winners of the past, as they revisit the rich Man Booker library."
The Golden Man Booker Prize will be supported by retailers, libraries and publishers across the UK, and internationally through online promotion.
On Instagram, organisers are already asking readers to revisit previous winners, encouraging them to read as many as they can by the end of May for the chance of winning tickets to the Man Booker 50 Festival. Featuring conversations between previous winning and shortlisted authors, the Man Booker 50 Festival will run from 6th to 8th July 2018 across Southbank Centre's site in London.
Since the rule change that came into effect in 2014 the Booker Prize Foundation has been under fire for its admission of US writers. This month the debate was stirred up again by a letter signed by at least 30 editors that is urging organisers to reverse their decision.