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British Guiana: The Booker Prize’s Bad History – Natalie Hopkinson | The New York Times

British Guiana: The Booker Prize’s Bad History

Natalie Hopkinson | The New York Times

The Man Booker Prize, one of the shiniest baubles and most generous purses in English letters, was awarded today to the American writer George Saunders for his novel “Lincoln in the Bardo.”

The occasion invites us to reflect on how the residue of slavery and white supremacy permeates our cultural life, and determines whose histories are celebrated and whose are erased.

There is a dark side to the Booker brand. It has unpaid debts to humanity. It has unleashed continuing agony in places like Guyana, where the Booker brothers founded a sugar firm in 1834. Earlier this year, we lost at age 90 the great novelist and art critic John Berger who tried to bring attention to the problematic nature of Booker’s history in Guyana.    Continue reading

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