What Is the Man Booker Prize for Fiction?

The Man Booker Prize is a yearly award given out to the best work of fiction for the year. It was first awarded in 1969 and is sponsored by the Man Booker Foundation, which is a charitable organization. The prize is only available to authors who are citizens in the Commonwealth (which includes such countries as Great Britain, India, Africa, New Zealand, and Australia) or Ireland. The Man Booker Prize is the highest recognition an author in those countries can receive and thus is the one prize that is the most coveted. The Man Booker Prize comes with a large amount of prize money but that is just the beginning. The winning author (and their publisher) gain fame and international recognition, increased sales, and lots of media coverage. Winning the Man Booker Prize can literally create an author’s career.

History of the Man Booker Prize

The Man Booker Prize got its start in 1968 when it was sponsored by the Booker-McConnell company. The company was, at the time, one of the largest companies in the United Kingdom and was involved in the sugar industry in British Guiana, which is now known simply as Guyana after they gained independence in 1966. The company’s chairman Jock Campbell set up the Booker Author Division which then went on to sponsor the Booker-McConnell Prize. After some time, the award became commonly referred to as the Booker Prize or just “the Booker”.

In 2002, the Booker Prize was transferred to the Booker Prize Foundation of which the Man Group was the chief sponsor. The booker Prize Foundation was now responsible for the administering of the Booker prize affairs. To keep with tradition and international recognition, the Man Group kept the “Booker” name but added “Man” to the title. Today it is officially known as the Man Booker Prize, although many people still refer to it as the Booker.

Rules For Man Booker Prize

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There are several rules and requirements that must be met for a book to be considered for the Man Booker Prize. The first and foremost is that the author must be a citizen of the Commonwealth, Zimbabwe, or Ireland. The other conditions for eligibility are as follows:

  1. Authors must be alive at the time of the award. Deceased authors are not eligible.
  2. The book must be originally written in English.
  3. Self published books are not eligible
  4. Entries must be published in the United Kingdom within the required dates but novels published outside the UK does not necessarily mean disqualification.
  5. Online submissions are acceptable but only if the imprint is an established one and that the judges receive 7 downloaded copies. If the book makes the short list, then the publisher must make the book available for sale in print within 10 days.
  6. All entries are made on a confidential basis.
  7. Authors who have previously won the Booker or any other prize is still eligible.
  8. Children books are acceptable as long as they have been published under an adult imprint.
  9. If a book is shortlisted, publishers will make the books available as e-books within two weeks of the announcement.

All of the entries are judged by a panel. There is a new judging panel every year and usually a judge only serves one time. They are selected by the Booker Prize Foundation’s advisory committee which is chosen by the Foundation itself. The advisory committee includes an author, two publishers, a literary agent, a bookseller, a librarian, and a chairperson. The judging panel consists of literary critics, writers, members of the academic field, and other prominent figures in the literary world. The panel is chosen to be balanced according to gender and profession. Once the judges are chosen, they have full responsibility and power of decision. They are not influenced by the Foundation or their advisory committee. The Man Booker Prize has a reputation for fair and honest judging. The Foundation prides itself on its inability to be seduced by corruption or influenced by bribery.

The judges have the responsibility for compiling a long list which consists of twelve to thirteen books. This is known as “The Man Booker Dozen”. The judges then create a short list of six books that they feel are exceptional and it is the shortlist nominees that are submitted for the prize. At least one judge must fully support a nominee for it to make it to the short list. Each author that makes the short list will receive 2,500 pounds in addition to a hand bound copy of their book.

United Kingdom publishers can submit up to two novels for consideration. In order to be eligible for the prize, the publisher must contribute 5,000 pounds for advertising and marketing of the book. If the book should actually win the prize, then the publisher must contribute another 5,000 pounds.

The prize for the Man Booker Prize was originally only 21,000 pounds. But when the Man Group took over as sponsor in 2002, the prize money was increased to 50,000 pounds. The prize may not be divided or withheld once it is awarded. The winner is usually announced at a large ceremony in London’s Guildhall and the prize is awarded to the winning author by the Booker Prize Foundation’s Literary Director.

Man Booker Prize Winners

The winners for the Man Booker Prize are as follows:

  • 2009: Wolf Hall
    byHilary Mantel
  • 2008: The White Tiger by Aravind Adiga (India)
  • 2007: The Gathering by Anne Enright (Ireland)
  • 2006: The Inheritence of Loss by Kiran Desai (India)
  • 2005: The Sea by John Banville (Ireland)
  • 2004: The Line of Beauty by Alan Hollinghurst (UK)
  • 2003: Vernon God Little by DBC Pierre (Australia)
  • 2002: Life of Pi by Yann Martel (Canada)
  • 2001: True History of the Kelly Gang by Peter Carey (Australia)
  • 2000: The Blind Assassin by Margaret Atwood (Canada)
  • 1999: Disgrace by J.M. Coatzee (South Africa)
  • 1998: Amsterdam by Ian McEwan (UK)
  • 1997: The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy (India)
  • 1996: Last Orders by Graham Swift (UK)
  • 1995: The Ghost Road by Pat Barker (UK)
  • 1994: How Late It Was, How Late by James Kelman (UK)
  • 1993: Paddy Clark Ha Ha Ha by Roddy Doyle (Ireland)
  • 1992: The English Patient by Michael Ondaatje (Sri Lanka) & Sacred Hunger by Barry Unsworth (UK)
  • 1991: The Famished Road by Ben Okri (Nigeria)
  • 1990: Possession: A Romance by A. S. Bryant (UK)
  • 1989: The Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro (UK/Japan)
  • 1988: Oscar and Lucinda by Peter Carey (Australia)
  • 1987: Moon Tiger by Penelope Lively (UK)
  • 1986: The Old Devils by Kingsley Amis (UK)
  • 1985: The Bone People by Keri Hulme (New Zealand)
  • 1984: Hotel Du Lac by Anita Brookner (UK)
  • 1983: Life and Times of Michael K by J.M. Coatzee (South Africa)
  • 1982: Schindler’s Ark by Thomas Keneally (Australia)
  • 1981: Midnight’s Children by Salman Rushdie (India)
  • 1980: Rites of Passage by William Golding (UK)
  • 1979: Offshore by Penelope Fitzgerald (UK)
  • 1978: The Sea, The Sea by Iris Murdoch (Ireland)
  • 1977: Staying On by Paul Scott (UK)
  • 1976: Saville by David Storey (UK)
  • 1975: Heat and Dust by Ruth Prawer Jhabvala (UK/Germany)
  • 1974: The Conservationist by Nadine Gordimer (South Africa) & Holiday by Stanley Middleton (UK)
  • 1973: The Siege of Krishnapur by J.G. Farrell (UK)
  • 1972: G. by John Berger (UK)
  • 1971: In A Free State by V. S. Naipaul (Trinidad/UK)
  • 1970: The Elected Member by Bernice Rubens (UK)
  • 1969: Something to Answer For by P.H. Newby (UK)

Man Booker International Prize Winners

Besides the yearly Booker Prize the Foundation also awards the The Man Booker International Prize. This is given out every two years to an author of fiction. It can be won by an author from any country as long as their work is originally published in English. The first Man Booker International Prize was founded in 2005. Here are the following winning authors:

  • 2005: Ismail Kadare (Albania)
  • 2007: Chinua Achebe (Nigerian)
  • 2009: Alice Munro (Canada)