So say you're a writer's association based in a particular country, and you're supposed to give out awards for the best book written by someone based in that country. But then, oh dear, three out of the last eight years a writer from another country -- who wrote in a completely different language! -- wins the prize. So what to do? Well, if you're the CWA, change the rules so that books in translation ain't eligible anymore:
The Crime Writers Association has angered publishers by barring foreign-language writers from competing for its top award. The £3,000 Golden Dagger has been scooped by the authors of translated works for three of the last eight years, including this year's winner: Icelandic Arnaldur Indridason for Silence of the Grave.
In a letter to publishers sent after last Tuesday's Daggers ceremony, the association said submissions for the 2006 Golden Dagger would be restricted to books originally written in English, in line with demands by a new sponsor to be announced later this year.
The 2004 prize was funded by BCA after the Daggers' traditional sponsor Macallan withdrew in 2003, but this year's awards were funded by the CWA itself.
Philip Gooden, a spokesman for the association, said it was bringing the award in line with the Man Booker and Orange prizes, which only accept submissions by English-language authors for their main awards. "As the British Crime Writers Association, we also have a duty to promote British writing," he added.
But Dan Franklin, publisher of Jonathan Cape imprint, said: "It's like all the European countries ganging together and deciding to exclude Brazil from the World Cup."
Publishers, jubilant over the prize's mainstream recognition for a translated book, Arnaldur Indridason's Silence of the Grave, were astonished when the association circulated a rule change restricting future Golden Daggers to "books originally written in the English language".
"If I hadn't actually seen it in writing from the CWA, I would find this very hard to believe," said Dan Frankin of Random House.
As of yet I haven't seen the written rule change, but if anyone has, please pass it on...