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Man-less Booker Prize

Tori Sharp discusses the representation of females in the Man Booker Prize Nominations.

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Arundhati Roy , Writer of Man Booker Prize for Fiction winning novel The God of Small Things (1997) visits Guwahati during 14th North East Book Fair

One of the most coveted awards in the literary sphere, the Man Booker Prize boasts a back catalogue of winners that stretch from Hilary Mantel to William Golding. This year, the International Man Booker Prize for Fiction has gone viral in the news for having 5 female nominees out of a total of 6. Has the world gone mad? It is the MAN Booker Prize after all.

5 female nominees out of a total of 6

Jokes aside, the press coverage that this small snippet of news received was full of words such as female-dominated or calling it an unprecedented gender split, which begs the question, would this coverage have been the same had it been five men on the shortlist?

Women have been massively underrepresented when it comes to these prestigious awards, especially in the International Category. This is a huge leap forward for women in the literary world, and also a big step for the Booker Prize itself. This year is set to see some changes for the Booker Prize, as the Man Group, responsible for the name and prize money of this award, have announced that they will no longer be sponsoring this accolade. The effect of this change is not yet certain, but it is clear from numerous interviews that the arts are experiencing an unprecedented withdrawal of public funding. This brings into question the longevity of these awards.

the arts are experiencing an unprecedented withdrawal of public funding

Has appreciation of the arts fallen to an all-time low, or will the Man Booker prize continue to prosper and remain the Academy Award of the book world? For now, we should celebrate the appreciation of female authors and hope that this continues well into the future. From the International Shortlist, I would recommend reading The Years by Annie Ernaux, a moving memoir that spans the 20th century France in a masterful way.  

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