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Booker changes 'bad idea' - Barnes
Novelist Julian Barnes has warned that changes in the Man Booker Prize mean it will be less likely to showcase up and coming talent, and predicted British writers will fare less well in future
He told of his fears ahead of the announcement of the next winner of UK publishing industry's best known prize, and the last before US writers will be admitted for inclusion.
Barnes - a former winner of the prize himself in 2011 for The Sense Of An Ending - said he considered the changes to be a "bad idea" and said they appeared to be the result of trying to cash in on a new international market.
In an interview for BBC Radio 3's Essential Classics, he said of the inclusion of US writers: "I was surprised because I had never heard anyone in the publishing world talk in favour of such a move.
"I don't know quite where it came from - maybe from the top. Maybe it's just an example of capitalist expansionism. Once you've got one market sown up, you want to go after another.
"I think it's generally a bad idea. I think that prizes thrive on having some restriction to them."
Jim Crace is favourite to take the title tonight with his book Harvest - which he has said will be his final novel - ranked at 5/4 by bookmaker William Hill after starting at 7/1 when the shortlist was announced. There has also been a late surge of support for Eleanor Catton, including a number of three figure bets, making her the 11/4 second favourite with Colm Toibin's The Testament of Mary at 4/1.
Eligibility changes announced last month opened the prize up to any novel originally written in English and published in the UK, regardless of the author's nationality, which means US writers will be added for the first time from 2014. It had largely been restricted to the Commonwealth.
But Barnes said: "There was nothing wrong with the Man Booker Prize as it had evolved over 40 years and the danger of opening it up to American writers - even though they have to be published in Britain - is visible from the Orange Prize.
"The Orange Prize is rightly only open to women but it's open to Americans and Americans have won it for the past five times.
"There's a certain cultural cringe in this country to the big American books and I fear that British writers will win it much less often. And often the Booker gives a platform to young writers and encourages them, and that, I think, is much less likely to happen.
The other books in contention for the prize tomorrow are We Need New Names by NoViolet Bulawayo, The Lowland by Jhumpa Lahiri and A Tale For The Time Being by Ruth Ozeki.