Booker bonanza

There is something novel about this year’s shortlist for the Man Booker prize for literature—five of them are by female authors

There is something novel about this year’s shortlist for the Man Booker International (MBI) prize for literature.

Announced on 9 April, it features six books, five of them by female authors. Carved out in 2005 as a complement to the original Booker prize, the MBI is awarded to works translated into English. Also, all six of the shortlisted books’ translators—one of whom will share the prize money equally with the winning author—are women.

Last year’s winner of the Man Booker prize was Anna Burns for her novel, Milkman, widely hailed for being attuned to the global #MeToo movement, given its theme of harassment suffered by a teenaged girl. Coincidence or not, these are good trends.

An important role of literature is to give readers an intimate experience of what it’s like to be “the other". Gender sensitivity, thus, ought to be a cause dear to the literary establishment. As Simone de Beauvoir said: “All oppression creates a state of war. And this is no exception."

The steady influx of women writers is welcome, but since women are now said to out number men as readers of fiction, let’s hope their voices get across to the latter as well.

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