Paul Beatty

And The Man Booker Prize Goes to… America, Again.

Yesterday, LitHub speculated that Graeme Macrae Burnett’s His Bloody Project, published by small Scottish publisher Saraband, might win the Man Booker Prize. We note this here because of Melanie Ramdarshan Bold’s conference presentation on northern English (well, not quite Scottish, obviously) indie imprints and their impressive contributions to the contemporary literary marketplace, but also because natch, Burnett didn’t win. Instead, the prize went to American Paul Beatty, for the powerful satire The Sellout (which we’re reading right now!).

Beatty’s publisher, as the Guardian’s linked article notes, is also a small press (Oneworld, so small that as of this typing, about 36 hours after the announcement, they had not yet publicized the win on their website; but then, neither has the Man Booker…). For our purposes here, we make note of that... This is also now two years in a row that the venerable Booker goes to a non-Commonwealth writer. We spoke at length about a variety of literary prizes at the conference. Regarding the Man Booker, we also discussed the consequence of its opening to authors writing in English (rather than Commonwealth writers only), which also enabled Marlon James’s win with A Brief History of Seven Killings last year. One thing that does not appear to be borne out is a fear that an internationalization of the prize might also flatten the profile of books awarded it: both The Sellout and James’s novel are affirmatively tied to their local (national, historical) contexts.

- TL & CNR, October 26, 2016