Irish-published novels now eligible for Man Booker Prize

Controversy had arisen over exclusion of ‘Solar Bones’ by Mike McCormack

Irish-published novels are now eligible for the Man Booker Prize, one of the most prestigious and influential English-language literary awards.

Controversy over their exclusion arose when it emerged that Solar Bones, the acclaimed comeback 2016 novel by Mike McCormack, was ineligible because it had been published by Tramp Press, a Dublin-based small press. It was longlisted for the prize last year only after it was published in Britain by Canongate, a Scottish publisher.

The rule change was announced in submission forms sent to publishers today. A new rule has been added specifying that any novel written originally in English and published in Ireland by an imprint formally established in Ireland is now eligible for the prize.

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.


“Publishing Ireland welcomes the announcement which comes after a period of consultation between its board members and the Booker Prize Foundation. The aim of the new rule is to ensure independent Irish publishers are given the same opportunity to be recognised by the prize as Irish publishers who have headquarters in the UK and are already eligible to submit titles.

“We believe that this revision recognises the very close relationship between Irish and UK publishers, that it takes into account the highly integrated nature of the UK and Irish markets, and that it will allow a vital source of literature in the English-speaking world to flourish.

“Irish writing has long been celebrated on the world stage. This adjustment to one of the world’s most prestigious literary awards will give an unprecedented platform to Irish publishers large and small. Further to this, we believe that this news will prove to be of lasting benefit not just to the publishing community in Ireland but to writers and readers around the world and to the canon of literature itself.”

Lisa Coen and Sarah Davis-Goff, publishers of Tramp Press, said: “We are thrilled to hear this great news. The Man Booker Prize is an important part of the literary scene in the UK and Ireland, and we have a great record of Irish authors winning it. Irish readers love to know what’s on the shortlist and to debate the merits of the winner every year. Allowing Irish publishers to be part of that, instead of having to sell on rights to authors we find and nurture, is massively consequential for the Irish publishing scene. Irish publishers can now compete for authors on a more level playing field with our colleagues 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."

This year’s judging panel is: philosopher Kwame Anthony Appiah (Chair); crime writer Val McDermid; cultural critic Leo Robson; feminist writer and critic Jacqueline Rose; and artist and graphic novelist Leanne Shapton.

The Man Booker Dozen of 12 or 13 books will be announced in July and the shortlist of six books in September. The winner of the £50,000 prize will be announced on October 16th at an awards ceremony at London’s Guildhall, broadcast live by the BBC.