African may win last 'Commonwealth' Booker
By Guy Jackson, AFPLONDON -- Zimbabwe's NoViolet Bulawayo could make history when the Booker Prize winner is revealed on Tuesday, but the favorite Jim Crace fears the literary contest will have lost some of its character next year.
October 16, 2013, 12:11 am TWN
Bulawayo is the first black African woman to be short-listed for the Booker, for “We Need New Names,” the tale of a 10-year-old girl who escapes poverty at home only to find new problems in the United States.
But Crace is among several authors who fear the organizers' decision to admit U.S. writers and those from any other part of the world from next year will degrade the prestigious contest.
While the novel must be an original work in English, the Booker is currently restricted to writers from the Commonwealth and former members Zimbabwe and Ireland.
“For me the great thing about the Booker Prize is that up to now it's been a Commonwealth prize reminding us about shared history,” Britain's Crace told an audience at a literary festival this week.
“Not always happy shared history, but there is a solidarity and cousinship between us, England and Ireland ... Zimbabwe, New Zealand, Canada, India, and all of those countries that make up the Commonwealth.
“That's my fear, I am worried about losing that. My hopes are that it will be a triumphant success.”
The Booker's expansion comes ahead of the start in March of a rival award — the Folio Prize. It has a 40,000-pound prize.