George Saunders Booker win: why the British shouldn’t be sore at American literary success

“In the four quarters the globe,” asked the British writer and cleric Sydney Smith in 1820: “Who reads an American book?” Smith was career eccentric, known for odd sayings and doings, such as wearing self-designed tin helmet as defence rheumatism. However, his scorn about the impoverished state literature in the upstart nation across the Atlantic was no mere individual fancy, but a judgement backed by his nation’s sense cultural superiority. But pose the same question now, almost exactly 200 years later, and such complacency is hardly the response you’re likely to get. The most esteemed British literary prize, after all, has now been awarded to an American author two years . American writer George Saunders’ victory in the The Man Booker Prize for , for his debut novel Lincoln in the Bardo , on from US novelist Paul Beatty’s 2016 win for The Sellout . Fears of the Americanisation of this piece of British literary heritage are likely to be renewed. Saunders and Beatty face being seen as the high-cultural wing of an ongoing transatlantic takeover of national life that recently took more bone-crushing form in the series of NFL […]

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