The Man Booker Prize – Reader’s Shelf

Last week I wrote about The True History of the Kelly Gang by Peter Carey. This winner of the Man Booker Prize (Carey’s second) was a joy to read and makes me want to share some of the other winners of the prize.

1988 saw Carey win his first Booker Prize for Oscar and Lucinda, a story of an Anglican priest struggling to reconcile his fear of damnation with his addiction to gambling, and a rich heiress, owner of a glass factory in Sydney, Australia. The two meet on the boat from London to Sydney, and when Lucinda bets Oscar he cannot transport a glass church up the coast their lives are changed forever.

The Ghost Road by Pat Barker, 1995’s prize winner, is the third in a trilogy following the tale of a group of shell-shocked World War I British officers. This tale focuses on a working-class man who has made officer, Billy Prior, and his relationship to real life psychoanalyst William Rivers, allowing Barker to explore World War I through eyes both fictional and actual.

No Booker Prize overview would be complete without Salman Rushdie, one of the English speaking world’s greatest authors. Longlisted multiple times Rushdie won the prize for Midnight’s Children in 1981, and the Best of the Booker in 2008. Combining magical realism with historical fiction, Midnight’s Children is a postcolonial work examining India’s independence through the biography of a telepathic “midnight child” – a child born at midnight on the eve of India’s independence.

Last year saw author Richard Flanagan win for The Narrow Road to the Deep North. The title is taken from one of the most famous works by Japanese poet Basho and is centers around the tale of one of the darkest incidents in Japanese history, the building of the Thailand-Burma Death Railway during World War II. Epic in scope it encompasses a century of Australian history, following wartime love affairs and the post-war lives of Japanese prison guards and Australian Far East Prisoners of War.

Judges and dates for this year’s prize have been set. The Man Booker Prize for Fiction 2015 is chaired by Michael Wood, with judges Ellah Allfrey, John Burnside, Sam Leith and Frances Osborne. The longlist will be announced on Wednesday July 29, 2015, with the shortlist following on Tuesday September 15, 2015. The winner will be announced on Tuesday October 13, 2015. I’ll write more here about the nominees when they are announced.

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