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A Yankee Takeover?

10 June 2002

The whisper that the new sponsors of the Booker Prize for Fiction, the Man Group, might be considering opening it up to American authors has caused a furore in British literary circles. Lisa Jardine, chair of this year's Booker panel, declared that it will make the award 'blandly generic' and said: 'With someone like Roth at his best, I can't see how an Amis or a McEwan would touch them.' But the contrary view was expressed by Jonathan Yardley, writing in the Guardian: 'apart from Bellow, I can think of only four American novelists - Michael Chabon, Gail Godwin, Craig Nova and Anne Tyler - whose work could be submitted to an international competition with any confidence. The rest is assembly-line product, each as indistinguishable from any other as one Ford Mondeo from another, self-referential and self-absorbed, technically competent but thematically empty or banal.'