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Man Booker Prize goes global with its first international longlist

23 July 2014

For the first time in its 46 year history, the £50,000 prize has, in 2014, been opened up to writers of any nationality, writing originally in English and published in the UK. Previously, the prize was open to authors from the UK & Commonwealth, Republic of Ireland and Zimbabwe.

A touchstone for quality literary fiction

First awarded in 1969, the prize is recognised as the touchstone for high quality literary fiction written in English. Its canon contains many of the literary trailblazers of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries: from Salman Rushdie to Hilary Mantel, Iris Murdoch to Peter Carey. The rules of the prize changed at the end of 2013, to embrace ‘the freedom of English in all its vigour, its vitality, its versatility and its glory wherever it may be’, opening up to writers beyond the UK and Commonwealth.

2014 Man Booker Dozen

154 books were entered for this year’s prize by UK publishers, of which 44 titles were by authors who are now eligible under the new rule changes. Commonwealth submissions totalled 31 for this year, as compared with 43 in 2013. To see the 2014 longlist, or Man Booker ‘Dozen’, of 13 novels, please download the full press release. This year there are four independent publishers on the list, of which one (Unbound) is a crowd-funded publisher. Chair of the 2014 judges, AC Grayling, comments on behalf of the panel: ‘This is a diverse list of ambition, experiment, humour and artistry. The novels selected are full of wonderful stories and fascinating characters. ‘The judges were impressed by the high quality of writing and the range of issues tackled - from 1066 to the future, from a PoW camp in Thailand, to a dentist’s chair in Manhattan; from the funny to the deeply serious, sometimes in the same book.’

Shortlist and winner announcements

The 2014 panel of judges will decide the shortlist later this summer. In addition to AC Grayling, they include: Jonathan Bate; Sarah Churchwell; Daniel Glaser; Alastair Niven and Erica Wagner. The shortlist of six books will be announced on Tuesday 9 September at a press conference at the London offices of Man Group, the prize’s sponsor. The 2014 winner announcement will then be broadcast by the prize’s broadcasting partner, the BBC, from London’s Guildhall on Tuesday 14 October, during a black-tie dinner bringing together the shortlisted authors, sponsor and well-known names from the literary world.

Winning the Man Booker Prize

The shortlisted authors each receive £2,500 and a specially bound edition of their book. On winning the Man Booker Prize, an author will receive a further £50,000 and can expect overnight fame and international recognition, not to mention a significant increase in book sales. In a discussion with the 2013 Chair of judges, Robert Macfarlane, 2013 winner Eleanor Catton said on winning the prize: ‘So many things have changed… I’ve been given opportunities to travel and to see my book read by such an astonishingly wide readership all over the world.’ Following her second win in 2012, Hilary Mantel topped the UK Official Top 50 with the sales of Bring up the Bodies, her sequel to Wolf Hall which won in 2009. Sales of her winning novels together exceeded a million copies in their UK editions. Theatre adaptations by the Royal Shakespeare Company of both novels have been widely praised, and the BBC is now preparing television adaptations. These are not the only winning novels to have gone on to have second or third lives as stage and screen adaptations; other famous examples include Schindler’s Ark (directed by Steven Spielberg as Schindler’s List), The Remains of the Day and The English Patient.

Changes to prize rules in 2014

This year’s rule changes see the prize abandoning geographical constraints so that all authors writing in English are eligible. On the changes, Salman Rushdie commented: ‘I think it's a really great thing that finally we've got an English-language prize that doesn't make a distinction for writers who are writing from a particular country.’ Other changes include the number of books a publisher can submit, based on their success in longlists over the previous five years. Chairman of the Booker Prize Foundation, Jonathan Taylor, said: ‘Our new model, in recognising literary achievement, should encourage the traditional publishing houses while ensuring novels from new green-shoot publishers continue to be included. ‘By including writers from around the world to compete alongside Commonwealth and Irish writers, the Man Booker Prize is reinforcing its standing as the most important literary award in the English-speaking world.’ To hear the most up-to-date news on this year’s prize, learn more about its history and share your thoughts online, visit us on Facebook, Twitter or the Man Booker Prize website. The Man Booker Prize is sponsored by Man Group, a leading investment management firm.

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