Thursday, 20 May 2010

Troubles by J G Farrell voted as the best novel of the 1970s

Troubles by J G FarrellForty years after it was first published, Troubles by J G Farrell has been announced as the winner of the Lost Man Booker Prize - a one-off prize to honour the books published in 1970, but not considered for the prize when its rules were changed. It won by a clear majority, winning 38% of the 4,000 votes cast by the international reading public, more than double the votes cast for any other book on the shortlist. Troubles - set in Ireland during the War of Independence - is the first in Farrell's trilogy on the British Empire. The other books in the trilogy are The Siege of Krishnapur, which takes place during the Indian Rebellion of 1857, and The Singapore Grip which is set in Singapore just before the Japanese invasion in the Second World War. The Siege of Krishnapur won the Booker Prize in 1973 and was shortlisted for the Best of the Booker, a special award created to mark the 40th anniversary of the prize in 2008. Set in Ireland in 1919, just after the First World War, Troubles tells the story of Major Brendan Archer who has gone to visit Angela, a woman he believes may be his fiancée. Her home, from which he is unable to detach himself, is the dilapidated Majestic, a once grand Irish hotel, and all around is the gathering storm of the Irish War of Independence. Ion Trewin, Literary Director of the Man Booker Prizes commented, "Troubles is a novel of such lasting quality that it has never been out of print in the 40 years since it was first published. Had this been the winning novel in 1970, J G Farrell would have gone on to become the first author to win the Booker Prize twice." Farrell was born in England. He grew up in Ireland and was living here at the time of his early death by drowning off the coast of Cork. The winning book was voted for via the Man Booker Prize website, chosen from a shortlist of six selected by a panel of three judges, all of whom were born in or around 1970. The shortlist included The Birds on the Trees by Nina Bawden; The Bay of Noon by Shirley Hazzard; Fire From Heaven by Mary Renault; The Driver’s Seat by Muriel Spark and The Vivisector by Patrick White. All of the titles have seen a boost in sales since the shortlist for the prize was announced. "When you consider that some of these books were out of print a short time ago, the Lost Booker has had a Lazarus-type effect on their sales – we're now selling them in their hundreds," said Waterstone's fiction buyer, Janine Cook. "It proves that a good book is a good book, someone just needs to be told about it." The Booker Prize started in 1969. The original concept was to award a prize to the best fiction book written by a Commonwealth citizen in the previous year. Then, in 1971, the rules were changed. It was decided the prize would be awarded to the best book of the current year. At the same time the award moved from April to November and, as a result, a wealth of fiction published for much of 1970 fell through the net and was never considered for the prize.

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