Literary row over eligibility rules for Whitbread Prize

Click to follow
The Independent Culture

Andrea Levy, whose novel Small Island has already scooped the Orange Prize for Fiction, is odds-on favourite to add the Whitbread book of the year title to her growing list of accolades on Tuesday. But both the Whitbread and its rival, the Booker Prize, find themselves embroiled in rows again this weekend, as they have so often.

Andrea Levy, whose novel Small Island has already scooped the Orange Prize for Fiction, is odds-on favourite to add the Whitbread book of the year title to her growing list of accolades on Tuesday. But both the Whitbread and its rival, the Booker Prize, find themselves embroiled in rows again this weekend, as they have so often.

The chair of this year's Booker, John Sutherland, has angered the literary establishment by admitting that judges rarely read the entries in full. And the Whitbread is under fire after one of the year's best novels, David Mitchell's Cloud Atlas, turned out to be ineligible.

Whitbread rules dictate that a writer has to have been living in the UK or Ireland for at least six months of each of the previous three years. Mitchell had until recently been living in Japan. Both Salman Rushdie and Martin Amis, who has been writing his new book in Uruguay, would probably find themselves excluded. Last year's Whitbread chair, Joan Bakewell, says it is time to review the rules while Dan Franklin at Jonathan Cape, which publishes Rushdie and Amis, said: "I'm used to the fact that half of our writers aren't eligible. I've just accepted it."

Although Small Island is 5/4 favourite to win the Whitbread, Andrea Levy's victory is by no means assured. Professor John Guy's biography of Mary Queen of Scots, My Heart is My Own, is at 5/2, and there are plans to make it into a film. The best first novel, Eve Green, by Susan Fletcher, is at 4/1.

Comments