Last week, the Man Booker Prize released its long list of novel finalists. After 45 years of this prestigious literary award being closed to Americans, 2014 is the year of the U.S., apparently, as four of the finalists are from the States.
The Americans who made the long list are Richard Powers, Siri Hustvedt, Joshua Ferris and Karen Joy Fowler. I’m sure they’re thrilled, and I’m sure their books merit mention. Well, I don’t care.
I’m an American. I’m supposed to be happy, right? Proud of my countrymen (and women). I’m not. Opening the Man Booker to Americans is stupid. OK, so I don’t know the full story. I wasn’t part of the Man Booker trustees meeting that decided to allow Americans into a contest that was historically for the British Commonwealth. But why? Why was this necessary?
It’s not like we don’t have this little, tiny award called the Pulitzer that’s open to Americans only. In fact, we love giving awards in America. Just look at the overwhelming amount of award shows. Seriously, we’re super-good at patting ourselves on the back. Now we’re trying to take over England, too?
Why do we have to win everything?
According to The Guardian, Kazuo Ishiguro, who won the Booker in 1989 for Remains of the Day, said he heard about the inclusion of Americans “from someone very senior at the prize and the argument was that the standard hadn’t been high enough.” Huh? What?
I have several favorite authors, and two of them (Neil Gaiman and Erin Kelly) are British and are kicking American authors’ butts. How is it possibly fair to say the standard isn’t high enough? Are these trustees mad?
I’m concerned this is a media play. I’m concerned they want more press for Man Booker, and who has louder mouths than Americans? There’s a reason we’re hated around the world. Other countries think we’re some control-freak monster, hungry for power. Sometimes, the world is right.
Writer and broadcaster Melvyn Bragg told The Sunday Times, “It’s rather like a British company being taken over by some worldwide conglomerate.” Nom-nom: that’s the sound of America chewing its way through British history.
The Man Booker is a British award. It’s always been a British award. It’s prestigious, and there’s a lot of money and instant celebrity associated with the honor of winning. Now, We The American People have bogarted our way into a place of honor we don’t need and possibly don’t deserve.
Like I said: Pulitzer. Hello? Do you think we’ll ever open that to foreigners? Doubt it, because as Americans, we love to win, win, win.
The short list of six titles will be revealed Sept. 9, and the winner will be chosen Oct. 14. If an American emerges victorious, I fear some little part of Britain will break. History will be altered, and it may be impossible to set the Man Booker on target ever again.
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