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Booker Prize

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Booker Prize

For the related biennial prize given to an author of any nationality, see Man Booker International Prize.

Man Booker Prize
Awarded for Best original full-length novel, written in the English language, by a citizen of the Commonwealth of Nations, Republic of Ireland, or Zimbabwe
Location Guildhall, London, England
Presented by Man Group
First awarded 1969
Official website

The Man Booker Prize for Fiction is a literary prize awarded each year for the best original full-length novel, written in the English language, by a citizen of the Commonwealth of Nations, the Republic of Ireland, or Zimbabwe.[1] Beginning in 2014, it will consider authors from anywhere in the world, so long as their work is in English and published in the UK. The winner of the Man Booker Prize is generally assured of international renown and success; therefore, the prize is of great significance for the book trade.[2]

The Booker Prize is greeted with great anticipation and fanfare.[3] It is also a mark of distinction for authors to be selected for inclusion in the shortlist or even to be nominated for the "longlist".

The 2013 winner, announced on 15 October, was The Luminaries by Canadian-born New Zealand author Eleanor Catton.

History and administration

The prize was originally known as the Booker-McConnell Prize, after the company Booker-McConnell began sponsoring the event in 1968;[4] it became commonly known as the "Booker Prize" or simply "the Booker." When administration of the prize was transferred to the Booker Prize Foundation in 2002, the title sponsor became the investment company Man Group, which opted to retain "Booker" as part of the official title of the prize. The foundation is an independent registered charity funded by the entire profits of Booker Prize Trading Ltd, of which it is the sole shareholder.[5] The prize money awarded with the Booker Prize was originally £21,000, and was subsequently raised to £50,000 in 2002 under the sponsorship of the Man Group, making it one of the world's richest literary prizes.

In 1970 Bernice Rubens became the first woman to win the Man Booker Prize, for The Elected Member.[6] The rules of the Booker changed in 1971; previously, it had been awarded retrospectively to books published prior to the year in which the award was given. In 1971 the year of eligibility was changed to the same as the year of the award; in effect, this meant that books published in 1970 were not considered for the Booker in either year. The Booker Prize Foundation announced in January 2010 the creation of a special award called the "Lost Man Booker Prize," with the winner chosen from a longlist of 22 novels published in 1970.[7]

Alice Munro has a unique place in Booker Prize history; The Beggar Maid is the only short story collection to have been shortlisted. (It was shortlisted in 1980.)[8]

Before 2001, each year's longlist of nominees was not publicly revealed.[9]

John Sutherland, who was a judge for the 1999 prize, has said, Template:Cquote


In 1972, the winning writer John Berger, known for his Marxist worldview, protested during his acceptance speech against Booker McConnell. He blamed Booker's 130 years of sugar production in the Caribbean for the region's modern poverty.[10][11] Berger donated half of his £5,000 prize to the British Black Panther movement, because they had a socialist and revolutionary perspective in agreement with his own.[4][10][12]

In 1980, Anthony Burgess, writer of Earthly Powers, refused to attend the ceremony unless it was confirmed to him in advance whether he had won.[4] His was one of two books considered likely to win, the other being Rites of Passage by William Golding. The judges decided only 30 minutes before the ceremony, giving the prize to Golding. Both novels had been seen as favourites to win leading up to the prize and the dramatic "literary battle" between two senior writers made front page news.[4][13]

1983's judging produced a draw between J. M. Coetzee's Life & Times of Michael K and Salman Rushdie's Shame, leaving chair of judges Fay Weldon to choose between the two. According to Stephen Moss in The Guardian, "Her arm was bent and she chose Rushdie" only to change her mind as the result was being phoned through.[14]

In 1993, two of the judges threatened to walk out when Trainspotting appeared on the longlist; Irvine Welsh's novel was pulled from the shortlist to satisfy them. The novel would later receive critical acclaim, and is now considered Welsh's masterpiece.[15]

The award has been criticised for the types of books it covers. In 1981, nominee John Banville wrote a letter to The Guardian requesting that the prize be given to him so that he could use the money to buy every copy of the longlisted books in Ireland and donate them to libraries, "thus ensuring that the books not only are bought but also read — surely a unique occurrence."[4][16]

In 1994, journalist Richard Gott described the prize as "a significant and dangerous iceberg in the sea of British culture that serves as a symbol of its current malaise."[4][17]

In 1997, the decision to award Arundhati Roy's The God of Small Things proved controversial. Carmen Callil, chair of the previous year's Booker judges, called it an "execrable" book and was seen on television saying it shouldn't even have been on the shortlist. Booker Prize chairman Martyn Goff said Roy won because nobody objected, following the rejection by the judges of Bernard MacLaverty's shortlisted book due to their dismissal of him as "a wonderful short-story writer and that Grace Notes was three short stories strung together."[18]

In 2001, A. L. Kennedy, who was a judge in 1996, called the prize "a pile of crooked nonsense" with the winner determined by "who knows who, who's sleeping with who, who's selling drugs to who, who's married to who, whose turn it is".[14]

In the mid-2000s, the Booker Prize was passed around between Ireland and India, giving the impression that the literatures of these countries were more fashionable than ever. "Outsider" John Banville began this trend in 2005 when his novel The Sea was selected, a decision greeted with shock and derision in England's famed London literary circle.[19] Boyd Tonkin, literary editor of The Independent, famously condemned it as "possibly the most perverse decision in the history of the award" and rival novelist Tibor Fischer poured scorn on Banville's victory.[20] Kiran Desai of India won in 2006. Anne Enright's 2007 victory came about due to a jury badly split over Ian McEwan's novel On Chesil Beach. The following year it was India's turn again, with Aravind Adiga narrowly defeating Enright's fellow Irishman Sebastian Barry.[21]

Expansion to include authors regardless of country of origin

On 18 September 2013 it was announced that future Man Booker Prize awards would consider authors from anywhere in the world, so long as their work was in English and published in the UK.[22] This change proved controversial in literary circles.[23]


The selection process for the winner of the prize commences with the formation of an advisory committee which includes a writer, two publishers, a literary agent, a bookseller, a librarian, and a chairperson appointed by the Booker Prize Foundation. The advisory committee then selects the judging panel, the membership of which changes each year, although on rare occasions a judge may be selected a second time. Judges are selected from amongst leading literary critics, writers, academics and leading public figures.

The winner is usually announced at a ceremony in London's Guildhall, usually in early October.


In 1993 to mark the 25th anniversary it was decided to choose a Booker of Bookers Prize. Three previous judges of the award, Malcolm Bradbury, David Holloway and W. L. Webb, met and chose Salman Rushdie's Midnight's Children (the 1981 winner) as "the best novel out of all the winners."[24]

A similar prize known as The Best of the Booker was awarded in 2008 to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the prize. A shortlist of six winners was chosen and the decision was left to a public vote. The winner was again Midnight's Children.[25][26]

Year Author Title Genre(s) Nationality
1969 P. H. Newby Something to Answer For Novel Template:Flagu
1970 Bernice Rubens The Elected Member Novel Template:Flagu
(retrospective awardTemplate:Efn)
J. G. Farrell Troubles Novel Template:Flagu
1971 V. S. Naipaul In a Free State Short story Template:Flagu
1972 John Berger G. Experimental novel Template:Flagu
1973 J. G. Farrell The Siege of Krishnapur Novel Template:Flagu
1974 Nadine Gordimer The Conservationist Novel South Africa South Africa
Stanley Middleton Holiday Novel Template:Flagu
1975 Ruth Prawer Jhabvala Heat and Dust Historical novel Template:Flagu
1976 David Storey Saville Novel Template:Flagu
1977 Paul Scott Staying On Novel Template:Flagu
1978 Iris Murdoch The Sea, the Sea Philosophical novel Template:Flagu
1979 Penelope Fitzgerald Offshore Novel Template:Flagu
1980 William Golding Rites of Passage Novel Template:Flagu
1981 Salman Rushdie Midnight's Children Magical realism Template:Flagu
1982 Thomas Keneally Schindler's Ark Biographical novel Template:Flagu
1983 J. M. Coetzee Life & Times of Michael K Novel South Africa South Africa
1984 Anita Brookner Hotel du Lac Novel Template:Flagu
1985 Keri Hulme The Bone People Mystery novel Template:Flagu
1986 Kingsley Amis The Old Devils Comic novel Template:Flagu
1987 Penelope Lively Moon Tiger Novel Template:Flagu
1988 Peter Carey Oscar and Lucinda Novel Template:Flagu
1989 Kazuo Ishiguro The Remains of the Day Historical novel Template:Flagu
1990 A. S. Byatt Possession Historical novel Template:Flagu
1991 Ben Okri The Famished Road Magic realism Template:Flagu
1992 Michael Ondaatje The English Patient Historiographic metafiction Template:Flagu
Barry Unsworth Sacred Hunger Historical novel Template:Flagu
1993 Roddy Doyle Paddy Clarke Ha Ha Ha Novel Template:Flagu
1994 James Kelman How Late It Was, How Late Stream of consciousness Template:Flagu
1995 Pat Barker The Ghost Road War novel Template:Flagu
1996 Graham Swift Last Orders Novel Template:Flagu
1997 Arundhati Roy The God of Small Things Novel Template:Flagu
1998 Ian McEwan Amsterdam Novel Template:Flagu
1999 J. M. Coetzee Disgrace Novel Template:Flagu
2000 Margaret Atwood The Blind Assassin Historical novel Template:Flagu
2001 Peter Carey True History of the Kelly Gang Historical novel Template:Flagu
2002 Yann Martel Life of Pi Fantasy and adventure novel Template:Flagu
2003 DBC Pierre Vernon God Little Black comedy Template:Flagu
2004 Alan Hollinghurst The Line of Beauty Historical novel Template:Flagu
2005 John Banville The Sea Novel Template:Flagu
2006 Kiran Desai The Inheritance of Loss Novel Template:Flagu
2007 Anne Enright The Gathering Novel Template:Flagu
2008 Aravind Adiga The White Tiger Novel Template:Flagu
2009 Hilary Mantel Wolf Hall Historical novel Template:Flagu
2010 Howard Jacobson The Finkler Question Comic novel Template:Flagu
2011 Julian Barnes The Sense of an Ending Novel Template:Flagu
2012 Hilary Mantel Bring Up the Bodies Historical novel Template:Flagu
2013 Eleanor Catton The Luminaries Historical novel Template:Flagu


Related awards

A separate prize for which any living writer in the world may qualify, the Man Booker International Prize, was inaugurated in 2005 and is awarded biennially. A Russian version of the Booker Prize was created in 1992 called the Booker-Open Russia Literary Prize, also known as the Russian Booker Prize. In 2007, Man Group plc established the Man Asian Literary Prize, an annual literary award given to the best novel by an Asian writer, either written in English or translated into English, and published in the previous calendar year.

Cheltenham Booker Prize

As part of The Times' Literature Festival in Cheltenham, a Booker event is held on the last Saturday of the festival. Four guest speakers/judges debate a shortlist of four books from a given year from before the introduction of the Booker prize, and a winner is chosen. Unlike the real Man Booker, writers from outside the Commonwealth are also considered. In 2008, the winner for 1948 was Alan Paton's Cry, the Beloved Country, beating Norman Mailer's The Naked and the Dead, Graham Greene's The Heart of the Matter and Evelyn Waugh's The Loved One.

See also


Further reading

  • Lee, Hermione (1981). . Times Literary Supplement, Reprinted 22 October 2008

External links

  • Official website
  • The Booker Prize Archive at Oxford Brookes University
  • A primer on the Man Booker Prize and critical review of literature
  • Man Booker Prize 2013 Longlist announced 23 July 2013, updated with Shortlist 10 September 2013

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