Man Booker Prize for Fiction opens doors to Irish publishers

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One of the world’s most prestigious literary awards is to accept Irish-published entries for the first time.

The Man Booker Prize for Fiction opened its doors after controversy over last year’s longlist when Solar Bones, the acclaimed comeback novel by Mike McCormack, was ruled ineligible until it was put into book stores in Britain by a Scottish publisher.

The novel was first published by Tramp Press, a small Dublin-based firm, before the UK rights were sold to Canongate, allowing it to be entered for the competition.

Organisers of the award said the rules have been changed given the “special relationship” between the UK and Irish publishing markets – whereby most Irish publishers release books simultaneously in both jurisdictions.

Previously entries to the Man Booker had to be written in English and published by a UK publisher.

The organisers said the aim is to ensure independent Irish publishers are given the same opportunity to be recognised as Irish publishers who have headquarters in the UK.

Gaby Wood, literary director of the Booker Prize Foundation, said: “We’re delighted to support Irish publishers and the writers whose work they bring into the world.

“So much exciting new fiction is being written and published concurrently in Ireland and the UK that we felt it was only right to acknowledge and honour that.”

Ronan Colgan, president of Publishing Ireland, said: “We are extremely grateful for the support shown by the Man Booker Prize and our friends and colleagues in the UK publishing industry. This announcement is wonderful news, not just for Irish publishers and Irish writers but for our intertwined literary heritage.”

There have been a number of Irish-born authors to win the prize, including Roddy Doyle for Paddy Clarke Ha Ha Ha in 1993 and Iris Murdoch for The Sea, The Sea in 1978 when the competition was known as the Booker Prize.

Other Irish writers who won in the 2000s when the award was known as the Man Booker Prize include John Banville for The Sea in 2005 and Anne Enright for The Gathering in 2007.

The 2018 prize is open for submissions from publishers for books published in the UK and Ireland between October 1 2017 and 30 September 2018.

The winner of the £50,000 prize will be announced on October 16 2018 at an awards ceremony at London’s Guildhall, broadcast live by the BBC.

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