The US's National Book Awards is to announce four ten-title longlists from 2013 onwards, in a nod to the Booker Prize, with the aim of stimulating conversation, celebrating literature, and expanding its audience.
"The Round House" by Louise Erdrich carries a National Book Award label for its 2012 win. Photo: AFP
And the National Book Foundation is countering the NBA's reputation as an award of interest to professional writers rather than the public at large by enlarging the selection criteria for each category's five member judges' panel to include literary critics, booksellers and librarians as well as the usual mix of writers and academics.
The longlisting convention is one shared with the Man Booker Prize, and the NBF's Vice President Morgan Entrekin acknowledged the similarity, saying that "we've basically just borrowed some of their ideas."
"The Bookers do a fantastic job at getting a conversation going about good books. With the long list, for instance, you get this conversation bubbling up about what made it and then about what doesn't get on the short list."
The NBA's usual patter has been to reveal a five-title shortlist in each of four categories -- fiction, non-fiction, poetry, and young people's literature -- a good month before winners are announced in November.
But this year, the main event will be preceded by longlists on September 12 and a whittled-down shortlist on October 15 prior to the unveiling of the four winners on November 20.
By comparison, the Man Booker Prize announces its own longlist on July 23, shortlist on September 10, and winner on what is now the same day as the NBA's shortlist, October 15.