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2007 04 12
Toronto Represents: Man Booker International Prize
This morning the long list for Man Booker International Prize (which celebrates a body of work of a living author, as opposed to the Man Booker Prize which celebrates one fictional work which has been published in the year which precedes the prize) was announced. Considering that the nationality of the authors was not a consideration in the judge’s selections, what does it say about the Canadian literary scene that Canadian authors (Margaret Atwood, Michael Ondaatje and Alice Munro) comprised 20% of the list? Further, what does it say about Toronto that each of these authors have written works which feature Toronto in some way? As a Torontonian, I have always appreciated reading about places which are part of my city. The ravines and streetscapes in Atwood’s The Edible Woman and the subterranean world detailed in Ondaatje’s In the Skin of a Lion bring Toronto to life in a way which other mediums cannot. Despite the consistently high quality of writing of these authors, I have always wondered if there is something else about such Canadian literary heroes that makes them so widely read and loved world wide. Are Canadian authors universally readable? Is Toronto universally writable? Surely it is not as simple as that.

You can be forgiven for not having heard of the over $130,000 prize; it is given out every two years, and this is only the second year in which it has been awarded. The winner will be announced in June. To those who wonder why we need yet another literary prize, John Fraser’s article in today’s Globe and Mail clears it right up: anything which helps to bring attention to literature should be applauded. I completely agree, and welcome prizes which recognize an author’s lifetime devotion to producing outstanding literary work. However, I do wonder whether some new literary prizes which celebrate works from new and emerging authors would not go amiss.

[email this story] Posted by Liza Badaloo on 04/12 at 08:51 PM

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