Thursday, 1 April 2010

The Lost Books – ‘Booker Prize 1970’

Fire from Heaven by Mary RenaultThe shortlist for The Lost Man Booker Prize - a once-off prize to honour the books published in 1970 that were not eligible for consideration for the Booker Prize was announced on March 25th. 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, 1968. 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. The shortlist was selected, from a longlist of 21 titles which are still in print and generally available today, by a panel of three judges, all of whom were born in or around 1970. They are journalist and critic, Rachel Cooke, ITN newsreader, Katie Derham and poet and novelist, Tobias Hill. The winner of The Lost Man Booker Prize will be decided by the international reading public. Voting, via the Man Booker Prize website closes on 23 April 2010. The overall winner will be announced on 19 May 2010.
The six books are:
The Birds on the Trees by Nina Bawden – a tale of middle-class parents struggling to cope with their troubled eldest son
Troubles by J G Farrell - about an army major in 1919 Ireland where the struggle for independence is about to begin
The Bay of Noon by Shirley Hazzard - chronicles the impact of the city of Naples, new friends and lovers on a lonely English girl
Fire From Heaven by Mary Renault - tells the story of the life of the young Alexander the Great and the years that shaped him.
The Driver's Seat by Muriel Spark - a story of a bored accountant whose search for adventure and sex on holiday becomes a journey to self-destruction
The Vivisector by Patrick White – follows the driven life of the celebrated painter Hurtle Duffield

Three of the authors on the shortlist - Farrell, Spark and Bawden - have previously been shortlisted for the Booker Prize. J.G. Farrell's The Siege of Krishnapur won in 1973. Patrick White, Mary Renault and Shirley Hazzard have never been shortlisted for the prize. JG 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. Down All the Days by Christy Brown was longlisted but failed to make the shortlist.

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