It's always nice to strike a chord. When the Man Booker judges unveiled their shortlist, I wrote that perhaps it was time for an alternative award. A complement rather than a rival, it would be "purely dedicated to excellence in the art of fiction, with "more explicit judging criteria" and "permanent jury members".
The manifesto for the proposed "Literature Prize" promises all those things. I hope it comes to fruition; and the prospect of such a contest will force the Man Booker organisers to go back to first principles and re-define the prize's role. The scare might even kickstart a Booker renewal. Meanwhile, we should never let the populist bullies, with their numbskull cries of "elitist" and "snob", close down this debate.
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