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EDITIONS
Monday, 18 November, 2002, 16:07 GMT
US ruled out of Booker Prize
Salman Rushdie
Salman Rushdie, winner of the Booker of Bookers
Booker Prize officials have decided against opening up the award to writers outside of Britain, the Commonwealth and Ireland.

The announcement ends months of speculation that US writers might become eligible for Britain's most prestigious literary award.

However, Booker administrator Martyn Goff confirmed that organisers were considering setting up a separate lifetime achievement award open to all nationalities, provided the work was published in English.

Mr Goff said: "We took the decision that the Man Booker Prize should remain as it is because its hallmark is that it honours Commonwealth writers.

Philip Roth
US authors like Philip Roth are not eligible
"That is what the prize has built its reputation on over the last 35 years, and its integrity is valued worldwide."

Rumours of a change in eligibility first surfaced last spring, prompting furious chatter among literati who speculated whether British or American fiction writing would prove stronger.

Lisa Jardine, chairman of this year's judging panel, claimed opening the prize to the US would "drown out" the voices of non-American writers.

Reports have claimed that the lifetime award could go to writers such as Briton Beryl Bainbridge, who has been shortlisted for the Booker five times but never won.

Boost

The Booker Prize, backed by the Booker foods group, was established in 1969 to reward good writing, to raise the stature of the author in the eyes of the public, and to encourage an interest in contemporary quality fiction.

Financial services conglomerate Man Group plc began sponsoring it in April, boosting the award from 21,000 ($33,000) to 50,000 ($79,000) and renaming it the Man Booker Prize.

This year's winner was Canadian Yann Martel, whose novel Life of Pi tells the story of a boy who survives a ship sinking and ends up alone on a lifeboat with animals from a zoo.

Coverage of the 2002 Booker Prize from BBC News Online and BBCi Arts


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