September 27, 2021

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Pierre Azoline: Nothing exemplary about the English variant!

In France, we do not want much to offer a foreign company as a model, which allows us to engage in a national sport with unadulterated pleasure: autoflalation. The literary world is no exception to the rule. The start of the school year, which marks the beginning of the Autumn Grand Prix, will see its indirect role, as is tradition each year at the same time. There is one thing that is not weakened, an archaeological note: the Booker Prize, created in London in 1968 to distinguish the best novel of the year published in English. From back to school, our literary critics are very exemplary in these genres and the French jury should be inspired. What has become an obvious truth is that they have been distracted from going and testing themselves on what is apparently going on. As a member of the Concord Academy, I follow very closely the English literary news surrounding the Booker Prize. It ended quickly: nothing. It is said to be as exciting as its official history, “created by the Concord Awards in the hope that innovations will become as central to English-speaking culture as fiction in France.”

Publishers decide which book to compete with

“Their arbitral tribunal rotates, which changes every year, which protects us from the dangers of maneuvering and compromising”, we often hear. For over a century, however, the history of literary gifts in France has been one of death (judges also die), exclusion for political reasons (cleaning after the war) and for health reasons or for personal reasons. Thus, whether we like it or not, it is renewed, even if it does not guarantee rationality in any way in matters of literary judgment. If we look at the workings of the Booker Prize, we can only come out in awe. Thus, it is the publishers who decide which book (usually one or two) should be submitted to the judges; This year, there were 158 in total, a disgraceful process for the teacher, who did not consider his teacher ineligible for election; In France, judges get everything from all publishers and then read what they find appropriate.

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No one can beat Concord twice (Roman Carey had to cheat by wearing a mask only to achieve it). Although JM Coetzee, Margaret Atwood, Peter Carey and Hillary Mandel have won twice, Kazuo Ishiguro, who is already on the 2021 selection list, did not mention that he is also an award winner. The Nobel Prize for Literature The profession of a great prize is to express a work and author, even if there are exceptions in the past (ah, Marguerite Duras 70 …). It has been like that for many years. In addition to the above are always the picks: Salman Rushdie, Ian McQueen, Jody Smith, Julian Barnes and some, unknown starters.

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The jury is not always qualified to evaluate the quality of a novel

The worst thing is the Booker Prize’s famous “rotating referee” system. In France, as we know, judges must be writers (and it is unfortunate that some judges still employ teachers by finding and publishing themselves at the center of a conflict of interest that is arbitrator and party); Members of the Arbitration Board are limited to gifts given by the media, be they listeners, readers or journalists. This is not the case with the Booker Prize: the annual writers are in the minority compared to those responsible for literary supplements in major newspapers, artists, editors, and parliamentarians. As testified by its 2021 jury: a historian, a journalist who specializes in empires Financial times, An academic novelist and an actress, led by the former Archbishop of Canterbury (!).

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Still, this is not the most baroque of the arbitral tribunals that the Booker Prize has given itself; A few years ago, we were surprised to see the presence of Stella Rimington, who spent her entire life as Director General of MI5 Against Counter-Espionage and Terrorism. With her, at least, the jury is sure to be well aware of the winners. But with a few exceptions, how are all these people who do not bind workers unlike writers worthy of evaluating the quality of a novel?


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