Man Booker International and the Independent's Foreign Fiction Prize merge

If you think the competition to win a literary prize is tough, just look at the competition among the prizes themselves.

In America we have the National Book Award, the Pulitzer Prize, the National Book Critics Circle Awards, the Dayton Literary Peace Prize, the Ainsfield-Wolf Book Awards, the Story Prize, a heap of PEN Awards, the Neudstadt Prize for International Literature, the Best Translated Book Awards and many others.

Across the Atlantic there's the Man Booker, which often has an international flavor because it is open to members of the Commonwealth. Also the IMPAC Dublin Literary Award, the Baileys Prize for Women's Fiction (formerly the Orange Prize), the Costa Book Award and the international Folio Prize, launched by a group of intellectuals when the Man Booker Prize was proving to be insufficiently literary.

Into all of this enter the Man Booker International Prize which, it was announced Tuesday, will be revamped.

Formerly a biannual award that recognized an author writing in a language other than English for their body of work, the new Man Booker International Award will, going forward, be presented every year for a single work in translation. It's merging with another British-based prize, the Independent's Foreign Fiction Prize, whose previous winners include Jose Eduardo Agualusa and Orhan Pamuk.

The new prize will have a larger purse, about $77,000. As the Independent Foreign Fiction Prize was, the Man Booker International Award will be equally split between author and translator. Shortlisted titles will get $1,500 each, also split between translator and author.

In a statement, Jonathan Taylor, chair of the Booker Prize Foundation, said, "We very much hope that this reconfiguration of the prize will encourage a greater interest and investment in translation." All novels published in English in the United Kingdom will be eligible for one of the two prizes. 

The first Man Booker International Prize to be awarded under the new scheme will be presented in 2016.

And if an author is overlooked there, there's still hope for the ultimately literary award: The Nobel Prize in literature, a recognition of a lifetime's achievement given to authors from all over the globe. 

Book news and more; I'm @paperhaus on Twitter

Copyright © 2018, Los Angeles Times
EDITION: California | U.S. & World