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Man Booker International forced to disqualify out-of-print writers

18 July 2005

'When we checked through our original list of 120 contestants, we found that we had to disqualify writer after writer, simply because they were not available in English translation. Often they had been translated back in the 80's or 90's, but the publisher had allowed the translations to go out of print. So we were unable to consider, for example, Peter Handke, Michel Tournier, Christoph Ransmayr, Antonio Lobo Antunes, Rachid Boudjedra or Fernando Vallejo.

To an outsider the British publishing industry can seem like a conspiracy intent on depriving English-speaking readers of the majority of the good books written in languages other than their own. The same laxity 50 or 60 years ago would have meant, for English readers, no Kafka, no Camus and no Borges. The judges hope that the advent of the Man Booker International Prize will encourage British publishers to reverse this trend. No other single outcome could matter more.'

John Carey, Chair of the judges of the Man Booker International Prize, at the award ceremony (reprinted in the Bookseller)