Booker Xenophobia: Timing, Timing & More Bad Timing

Posh Brit writers want Americans banned from Booker!

Some Brit writers want to bar Americans from Booker Prize.

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?

11 thoughts on “Booker Xenophobia: Timing, Timing & More Bad Timing

  1. I think Barnes has been vocal on this subject before, and you do sense some sour grapes. But his timing is certainly off. However, I confess to having found the Booker increasingly irrelevant of late so I can’t imagine his carping will make a lot of difference.


  2. Kat, we have now come to a word of nationalisms. The Americans want to build walls and go back to virile, macho, pioneer, frontier good ol’ times where niggers and those red skin knew their places: serving the White Man (the White Woman is far behind). The Brits exit the EU and perhaps (!) wi cut the EUROSTAR; they want a wall in Calais to stop al kinds of migrants to come and spoil the beauty of this fair and sceptred isle. The French are in the starting bocks to elect some fascist or ready to make an alliance with a facsist gal (see who I mean).
    And we might go on and on.
    So, Julian Barnes’ reaction is “on ne peut pus naturelle” in this context!
    Oh, my gloves and whiskers! I shall be ate for the mad hatter tea-party!!!!!


      • I think there have been comments of the same ilk years ago but I cannot remember for which prizes. The UK an not the Commonweath or the UK, the Commonwealth an non native English speakers? Against Salman Rushdie? I don’t remember but there was a scandal of the same sort. Barnes may have wanted to hurt the US as the UK was hurt by reactions to the BREXIT…


        • Yes, they have complained about the Booker & Americans. It’s unfortunates unfortunate to bring it up after someone who is clearly not a blockbuster wins it. A small press published it in the UK>

          Liked by 1 person

          • We have prizes and prizes in France. The most coveted are the Goncourt, Femina, Interrallié, Académie française, Gon court des lycéens, ad lib. There is no money attached to most of them, only name, fame and glory. Why should people battle or fight for this? Most Goncourt were forgotten as the oe wo was elected instead of Prousr. I don’t remember last year’s nominee. And why nationalities or native language or not? A book is good or not. Stupid! I hop a sip of the tongue (or the mind for a fraction of second) from Julian Barnes


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