War of words: major authors launch rival to 'low-brow' Booker

view gallery VIEW GALLERY

Literature Prize will reward artistry over accessibility – and be open to American writers

A group of prizewinning authors and literary aficionados have launched a new book prize which they claim will capture the original spirit of the Booker and become its most formidable rival.

Among supporters of The Literature Prize are former Booker winners Pat Barker and John Banville, and the twice shortlisted David Mitchell, as well as Mark Haddon and Jackie Kay. A source said several other former Booker winners had expressed support.

The award's advisory board said it would reward the best in quality fiction – a role fulfiled by the Booker prize until it shifted its criteria, it claimed. The prize, which will announce its first longlist next year, will include American writers – unlike the Booker which extends its reach across Commonwealth countries but shuns US authors.

There is seldom a year when the Booker does not raised literary hackles, but it never led to direct action until now.

There was fierce opposition to this year's shortlist and some went as far as to suggest an alternative prize that would recognise serious literary fiction, impervious to considerations of popularity and sales figures. There was particular outrage at the exclusion of Alan Hollinghurst's book, The Stranger's Child, which was longlisted but made it no further. Two debut novelists were among the six-strong shortlist, with the winner to be announced next week.

Mitchell whose last novel, The Thousand Autumns of Jacob De Zoet, was longlisted for the Booker in 2010, welcomed the new prize.

"I think unequivocally that the Literature Prize will be a good thing," the author said. "It's undeniable that in recent years the Booker shortlist has emphasised accessibility over artistry – to follow this trend was a stated intention of this year's judging panel – and that's fine, of course. But Anglophone culture also needs an arena where the adjective 'challenging' isn't a dirty word, and I'm supporting the Literature Prize because it promises to create such an arena."

The new award's advisory board said in a statement: "The prize will offer readers a selection of novels that, in the view of expert judges, are unsurpassed in their quality and ambition. For many years, this brief was fulfiled by the Booker (latterly Man Booker) prize.

"But... it now prioritises a notion of 'readability' over artistic achievement. We believe... that the public deserves a prize whose sole aim is to bring to our attention and to celebrate the very best novels published in our time."

Suggested Topics
Arts and Entertainment

Film Leonardo DiCaprio hunts Tom Hardy

Arts and Entertainment
And now for something completely different: the ‘Sin City’ episode of ‘Casualty’
TV
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Turkey-Kurdish conflict: Obama's deal with Ankara is a betrayal of Syrian Kurds and may not even weaken Isis

    US betrayal of old ally brings limited reward

    Since the accord, the Turks have only waged war on Kurds while no US bomber has used Incirlik airbase, says Patrick Cockburn
    VIPs gather for opening of second Suez Canal - but doubts linger over security

    'A gift from Egypt to the rest of the world'

    VIPs gather for opening of second Suez Canal - but is it really needed?
    Jeremy Corbyn dresses abysmally. That's a great thing because it's genuine

    Jeremy Corbyn dresses abysmally. That's a great thing because it's genuine

    Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, applauds a man who clearly has more important things on his mind
    The male menopause and intimations of mortality

    Aches, pains and an inkling of mortality

    So the male menopause is real, they say, but what would the Victorians, 'old' at 30, think of that, asks DJ Taylor
    Man Booker Prize 2015: Anna Smaill - How can I possibly be on the list with these writers I have idolised?

    'How can I possibly be on the list with these writers I have idolised?'

    Man Booker Prize nominee Anna Smaill on the rise of Kiwi lit
    Bettany Hughes interview: The historian on how Socrates would have solved Greece's problems

    Bettany Hughes interview

    The historian on how Socrates would have solved Greece's problems
    Art of the state: Pyongyang propaganda posters to be exhibited in China

    Art of the state

    Pyongyang propaganda posters to be exhibited in China
    Mildreds and Vanilla Black have given vegetarian food a makeover in new cookbooks

    Vegetarian food gets a makeover

    Long-time vegetarian Holly Williams tries to recreate some of the inventive recipes in Mildreds and Vanilla Black's new cookbooks
    The haunting of Shirley Jackson: Was the gothic author's life really as bleak as her fiction?

    The haunting of Shirley Jackson

    Was the gothic author's life really as bleak as her fiction?
    Bill Granger recipes: Heading off on holiday? Try out our chef's seaside-inspired dishes...

    Bill Granger's seaside-inspired recipes

    These dishes are so easy to make, our chef is almost embarrassed to call them recipes
    Ashes 2015: Tourists are limp, leaderless and distinctly UnAustralian

    Tourists are limp, leaderless and distinctly UnAustralian

    A woefully out-of-form Michael Clarke embodies his team's fragile Ashes campaign, says Michael Calvin
    Blairites be warned, this could be the moment Labour turns into Syriza

    Andrew Grice: Inside Westminster

    Blairites be warned, this could be the moment Labour turns into Syriza
    HMS Victory: The mystery of Britain's worst naval disaster is finally solved - 271 years later

    The mystery of Britain's worst naval disaster is finally solved - 271 years later

    Exclusive: David Keys reveals the research that finally explains why HMS Victory went down with the loss of 1,100 lives
    Survivors of the Nagasaki atomic bomb attack: Japan must not abandon its post-war pacifism

    'I saw people so injured you couldn't tell if they were dead or alive'

    Nagasaki survivors on why Japan must not abandon its post-war pacifism
    Jon Stewart: The voice of Democrats who felt Obama had failed to deliver on his 'Yes We Can' slogan, and the voter he tried hardest to keep onside

    The voter Obama tried hardest to keep onside

    Outgoing The Daily Show host, Jon Stewart, became the voice of Democrats who felt the President had failed to deliver on his ‘Yes We Can’ slogan. Tim Walker charts the ups and downs of their 10-year relationship on screen