Sep 19, 2013

By Scott Walker

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There’s mixed reaction in the Canadian literary world to news that the Man Booker Prize will be opened up to American authors.

Up until now, the Booker was only open to authors from the UK, Ireland, and the Commonwealth. But the Booker committee decided to include American authors beginning next year.

Mary Osborne is the Executive Director of the Writers Trust of Canada. She tells the Toronto Star the inclusion of American authors will mean more competition, but could ultimately make the award more valuable.

The owner of Toronto’s Ben McNally Books feels there’s nothing to be gained. Ben McNally points out the Pulitzer Prize committee couldn’t find an American author worthy of a Pulitzer in 2012, and perhaps that award should be opened up to foreign authors.

McNally says Canadian authors are talented enough to hold their own against the best in the world. But he’s worried that expanding the field will make it harder for up-and-coming authors to gain exposure by making the long list.

Two authors with ties to Canada have made this year’s short list. Eleanor Catton was born in London but grew up in New Zealand, where she now makes her home. She’s nominated for The Luminaries. Ruth Ozeki is American by birth but now makes her home in British Columbia. She is nominated for A Tale for the Time Being.

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