Readers of the Free-For-All will remember that we here get all fluttery and heart-eyes over the Man Booker Prize. We love the way it has highlighted some of the most intriguing, beguiling, emotionally-gripping books of the past fifty years. We love that the award is willing to grow an evolve. While it originally only recognized books written in English and published in the United Kingdom, the award now accepts submissions from English-speaking countries around the world. It has also added a prize for novels in translation: the Man Booker International Prize, which we also adore. The award has also been addressing its implicit classism and biases by celebrating working-class authors over the past few years. Between that and all the pomp, circumstance, and book lover that it engenders, the Man Booker Prize is one we truly love to watch.
And since this year marks the fiftieth anniversary of the Man Booker Prize, the good people of the award have determined to take things up a notch by announcing the Golden Man Booker Prize (in my head, this award is always in bold font, and is accompanied by trumpet fanfares). According to the award website, “The Golden Man Booker will put all 51 winners – which are all still in print – back under the spotlight, to discover which of them has stood the test of time, remaining relevant to readers today.” Five judges have been appointed to read the winning novels from each decade of the prize, and each judge has chosen which book, in his or her opinion, is the best winner from that particular decade, and will champion that book against the other judges’ selections. The judges’ ‘Golden Five’ shortlist was announced at the Hay Festival on May 26. The five books will then be put to a month-long public vote lasting until June 26. The overall winner will be announced at the Man Booker 50 Festival on July 8.
To be truthful, I’m not entirely sure how I feel about this award. More to the point, I don’t know if it’s valid to compare a novel from one decade to that of another. Time’s change. Standards change. Readers change. Things also get really weird in discussing the books from this most recent decade. Have these books withstood the test of time? How can we adequately judge…especially where the chosen book was released less than a year ago?
You know what the cool part is, though? YOU CAN VOTE ON THE WINNER OF THE GOLDEN MAN BOOKER PRIZE! Seriously, I’m way too excited about this. But in order to be a conscientious voter, you need to be an educated voter. So be sure to check out these short-listed books, and vote for your favorite!