Sunday, October 21, 2007

Winner Of Man Booker Prize 2007.

A Review By My Den.
Irish author Anne Enright was declared the winner of this year's Man Booker Prize. The Booker Prize, now known as Man Booker Prize since it's sponsorship by investment company Man Group in 2002, is a prestigious literary award started in 1969. It is awarded to the best novel of the year by a citizen of the Commonwealth or the Republic of Ireland and is judged by a five-person panel of critics, writers and academics.

Out of a group of six shortlisted contenders, the 45-year old author pipped hot favorites like British writer Ian McEwan, New Zealander Lloyd Jones and my personal choice , Indian writer Indra Sinha, to clinch the award. Her 272-page tome, The Gathering, which chronicles the disintegration of an Irish family, netted her $52,500 pounds.

Besides the prize money, winning a prestigious literary award usually translates into increase worldwide sales for the award-winning novel with the attendant effect of readers and libraries looking into the author's previous works. According to Enright's publisher, winning the Man Booker Prize may quadruple sales, currently at 35,000 copies, of her award winning novel. Even being shortlisted for the award has an impact on book sales with Pakistani author, Mohsin Hamid, reportedly saying that rights to his novel have been sold in 20 countries as a result of his novel - The Reluctant Fundamentalist being among the contenders for the award.

Like some things in life, however, winning a prestigious literary award does not always guarantee continuing literary success. One example will be Briton P.H. Newby, the inaugural Booker Prize winner in 1969 with Something To Answer. He is now largely forgotten and his winning novel is out of print. Another would be Cologne-born writer Ruth Prawer Jhabvala who is better known for her award-winning work on screenplays for Merchant Ivory Productions than her 1975 win for Heat And Dust.

While the Man Booker Prize has it's fair share of controversy, it can also lead to increase exposure for lesser-known authors and allow readers to explore works that are under-appreciated and this is a definite plus for both writers and readers. The rise in profiles, in recent years, of writers from the post-colonial world - India, Africa and Australia in particular, is another benefit of the Man Booker Prize. Prominent post-colonial authors like Salman Rushdie and V.S. Naipaul have helped to wrest the stranglehold on what makes good English writing away from the British and their literary focus can be decidely non-Western.

There are also indications that the organisers of the Man Booker Prize plan to make its shortlisted novels available online for free so as to shake off its stodgy image and reach out to a wider global audience.

*Related post : Man Booker Prize Contenders 2007.