You are here

Man Booker International Prize 2013 - "Three and two makes five - and more"

Man Booker International Prize 2013 - "Three and two makes five - and more"

Fiammetta Rocco, the Administrator of the Man Booker International Prize, discusses the decision to move from three judges to five on next year's Man Booker International Prize.

At the first meeting of the Man Booker International Prize panel in 2004, the three judges convened in Rome. Their task? To select the writers they would all begin reading.

The rules were simple. To be considered, a novelist had still to be living and to have a body of work written or translated into English. Most important, that work had to amount to 'an achievement in fiction.' The first winner they chose a year after that, the Albanian writer, Ismael Kadare, went on to be published to new readers all over the world.

Eight years and three winners later, things have changed subtly. Literary fiction faces new difficulties. Reading is under threat; translation ever more costly. The recession is making publishing increasingly cautious, conventional even. Yet more people speak English than ever before, and literary translation is no longer something that only happens in London or New York.

This is the reason why, for the 2013 Man Booker International Prize, we have increased the number of judges from three to five. Halfway through the judging process, the decision to appoint a bigger panel is already paying off. Under the chairmanship of Sir Christopher Ricks, more writers are being considered than ever before.

The judges are striking out on their own, making a particular effort to seek out writers who haven't yet made it on to the common radar: the storyteller who writes in Kannada and whose English translations are sold only in India; the Brazilian modernist whose English translations are published only in Australia.

If the list of contenders, which will be announced at the Jaipur Literary Festival in January 2013, includes names you've never heard of, don't be surprised. The jury is out, and it's bigger than ever.


Image of Fiammetta Rocco
Fiammetta Rocco, administrator of the Man Booker International Prize