A month after the African-American writer Paul Beatty won the Man Booker Prize for his novel, The Sellout, the excellent writer Julian Barnes has said Americans should not be eligible for the prize.
Was it the Latin errors? No, that is my thing.
The Brits want Americans out! According to the Telegraph, Barnes, who won the Booker in 2011, said, “The Americans have got enough prizes of their own. The idea of being Britain, Ireland, the old Commonwealth countries and new voices in English from around the world gave it a particular character and meant it could bring on writers.”
Oh, dear–the Commonwealth!
He added, “If you also include Americans – and get a couple of heavy hitters – then the unknown Canadian novelist hasn’t got a chance.”
Well, the Canadians have prizes, too. This year’s Booker-shortlisted Canadian writer, Madeleine Thien, won two: the Governor General’s Award the Scotiabank Giller Prize.
Mind you, I am an Anglophile and have read most of the Booker winners.
By all means, give the Booker to the Brits! Who cares?
But what bad timing! To protest after the first American winner is black.
Rallying round Barnes are other white Writers of a Certain Age, A. S. Byatt, winner of the Booker for her great novel Possession, novelist Susan Hill, who was a judge on the 2011 panel, Peter Carey, winner of the Booker for True History of the Kelly Gang, Booker-longlisted Philip Hensher and Amanda Craig, a novelist I’ve never heard of, so I can’t connect her to the Booker.
It’s the year of Brexit and Trump: the timing couldn’t be worse.
Didn’t I tell you I detected anti-American feeling in London?