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'Bookermania' and prize expanison celebrated at the Morgan Library

'Bookermania' and prize expanison celebrated at the Morgan Library

New York’s Morgan Library was the setting for a significant Man Booker event in early November 2013.

The evening had a double purpose: first to celebrate the ‘Bookermania: 45 years of the Booker Prize’ exhibition running at the Morgan and secondly to mark the expansion of the prize to embrace any novelist writing originally in English and published in the UK.

Jonathan Taylor, Chair of the Booker Prize Foundation, welcomed guests including the 2013 prize winner Eleanor Catton, and explained how the new submissions process would work as from 2014.  He concluded with the lines

‘But we are also here to mark some very important changes to the Man Booker Prize, the winners of which will in future be able to claim each year to have written the finest novel in English in the world’

John Rohal then spoke on behalf of the Man Group and emphasised how the creative relationship with the Man Booker Prize mirrors Man’s on-going need to come up with creative solutions on behalf of their clients.

Writer and editor, Bill Buford then introduced Salman Rushdie, winner of the 1981 Booker Prize for his novel, Midnight’s Children.  There followed a very affectionate and humourous exchange about the book.  Bill had known Salman while he was writing it, during its publication period, at the time it won the prize and beyond.  Salman recalled how narrowly he had missed being published at all, thanks to a very negative reader’s report and he paid homage to both Liz Calder and Tom Maschler for their belief in him and the book. 

He talked too about the different reception the book had had in India where it was thought to be autobiographical and the rest of the world where it was seen as magic realism.  It was evident from the exchange how life-changing the 1981 Booker Prize had been for Salman Rushdie. 

Salman concluded by calling on American book prizes – The Pulitzer and The National Book Award in particular - to emulate the Man Booker Prize and go global.

Salman Rushdie and Bill Buford at the Morgan Library