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It is interesting to note that The Booker Prize, which has long been the legacy of the British Empire, has finally opened its doors for the world. Well, by being the legacy of the British Empire until 2013, this famous prize was meant only for the Authors of the Commonwealth Nations, Ireland, South Africa & Zimbabwe. While from the year 2014, the Booker Prize really opened their doors for the Authors around the world. Well, there are certainly much more enthralling facts with regards to the history of this prestigious award, where each year the Authors with the best novel written in the English language are honoured.
The Booker Prize was started in the year 1969 as a literary prize for the authors of the Commonwealth Nations for their published novels in English. Now, it is important to note that the first edition of this prestigious award was known as, ‘Booker Prize for Fiction’ as the company Booker, McConnell Ltd began sponsoring the event in 1969 and it kept on to be called so till 2001. While from 2002 to 2019, it was called as the ‘Man Booker Prize’ since the Man Group became the official title sponsor of this esteemed literary award & they decided to retain the name ‘Booker’ as part of the official title of the prize. Well, the prize money awarded with the Booker Prize was originally £21,000, and was subsequently raised to £50,000 in 2002 under the sponsorship of the Man Group, making it one of the world’s richest literary prizes!
In 2019, some big developments took place after the Man Group announced that 2019’s prize would be the last of eighteen under their sponsorship. Well, this was the time when a new sponsor, Crankstart, which is a charitable foundation run by Sir Michael Moritz and his wife, Harriet Heyman jumped up to be on-board with this popular literary award programme. They announced that they would sponsor the award for the next five years, with the option to renew for another five years. So now, the award title was changed to simply “The Booker Prize” as we call it now.
A sister prize, the International Booker Prize, is awarded for a book translated into English and published in the United Kingdom or Ireland. A Russian version of the Booker Prize was created in 1992 called the Booker-Open Russia Literary Prize, also known as the Russian Booker Prize. In 2007, Man Group plc established the Man Asian Literary Prize, an annual literary award given to the best novel by an Asian writer, either written in English or translated into English, and published in the previous calendar year.
Well, these are some compulsive facts regarding the Booker Prize, which we must know as literary enthusiasts. While, if we look at the judging panel then we are going to find that the selection process for the winner of the prize commences with the formation of an advisory committee. This advisory committee includes a writer, two publishers, a literary agent, a bookseller, a librarian, and a chairperson appointed by the Booker Prize Foundation. Judges are selected from amongst leading literary critics, writers, academics and leading public figures. The Booker judging process and the very concept of a ‘Best Book’ being chosen by a small number of literary insiders is controversial for many. And adding to this controversy the renowned Indian Author, Amit Chaudhuri wrote that – “The idea that a ‘book of the year’ can be assessed annually by a bunch of people – judges who have to read almost a book a day – is absurd, as is the idea that this is any way of honouring a writer.”
So yes, there are some big critics of this prestigious literary award too but still there is something about this literary prize, which makes it estimable! The very fact that the Booker Prize opened their doors for the authors around the world and the warm appreciation, which this decision received, makes the Bookers Prize something to be talked about. Ever since 2014, the publishers around the world have been granted much more authority to submit their titles of their house to the Booker Prize. Therefore, it would not be wrong to conclude that the Booker Prize had opened their gates for the authors as well as the publishers all around the world. Well, this is something that makes this literary prize as the most esteemed prize for an author!
Written By SHREYA SHARMA – Author of the Book, Indian Defence Files: Volume 1 (2021).