Booker Prize for Fiction (formerly known as the
Booker–McConnell Prize and commonly known simply as the Booker
Prize) is a literary prize awarded each year for the best original
novel written in the
English language and published in the UK. The
winner of the Man
Booker Prize is generally assured international
renown and success; therefore, the prize is of great significance for
the book trade. From its inception, only novels written by
Commonwealth, Irish, and South African (and later Zimbabwean) citizens
were eligible to receive the prize; in 2014, however, this eligibility
was widened to any English-language novel—a change which proved
A high-profile literary award in British culture, the
Booker Prize is
greeted with great anticipation and fanfare. 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".
1 History and administration
4 Related awards
6 See also
8 Further reading
9 External links
History and administration
The prize was originally known as the Booker–McConnell Prize, after
the company Booker, McConnell Ltd began sponsoring the event in
1968; it became commonly known as the "Booker Prize" or simply "the
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. 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.
Bernice Rubens became the first woman to win the Booker
Prize, for The Elected Member. 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.
The Beggar Maid
The Beggar Maid was shortlisted in 1980, and remains the
only short story collection to be shortlisted.
Before 2001, each year's longlist of nominees was not publicly
John Sutherland, who was a judge for the 1999 prize, has said,
There is a well-established London literary community. Rushdie doesn't
get shortlisted now because he has attacked that community. That is
not a good game plan if you want to win the Booker.
Norman Mailer has
found the same thing in the US – you have to "be a citizen" if you
want to win prizes. The real scandal is that [Martin] Amis has never
won the prize. In fact, he has only been shortlisted once and that was
for Time's Arrow, which was not one of his strongest books. That
really is suspicious. He pissed people off with Dead Babies and that
gets lodged in the culture. There is also the feeling that he has
always looked towards America.
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. 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
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. 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
Judging for the 1983 award 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.
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.
The award has been criticised for the types of books it covers. In
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." In 1994, Guardian
literary editor Richard Gott, citing the lack of objective criteria
and the exclusion of American authors, described the prize as "a
significant and dangerous iceberg in the sea of
British culture that
serves as a symbol of its current malaise."
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 said on television
that it shouldn't even have been on the shortlist. Booker Prize
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
Grace Notes was three short stories strung together."
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".
The Booker prized created a permanent home for the archives from 1968
to present at
Oxford Brookes University
Oxford Brookes University Library. The Archive, which
encompasses the administrative history of the Prize from 1968 to date,
collects together a diverse range of material, including
correspondence, publicity material, copies of both the Longlists and
the Shortlists, minutes of meetings, photographs and material relating
to the awards dinner (letters of invitation, guest lists, seating
plans). Embargoes of ten or twenty years apply to certain categories
of material; examples include all material relating to the judging
process and the Longlist prior to 2002.
Between 2005 and 2008, the
Booker Prize alternated between writers
from Ireland and India. "Outsider"
John Banville began this trend in
2005 when his novel The Sea was selected as a surprise winner:
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
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
Historically, the winner of the Man
Booker Prize had been required to
be a citizen of the
Commonwealth of Nations, the Republic of Ireland,
or Zimbabwe. It was announced on 18 September 2013 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. This
change proved controversial in literary circles. Former winner A. S.
Byatt and former judge
John Mullan said the prize risked diluting its
identity, whereas former judge
A. L. Kennedy
A. L. Kennedy welcomed the change.
 Following this expansion, the first winner not from the
Commonwealth, Ireland, or Zimbabwe was American
Paul Beatty in 2016.
Another American, George Saunders, won the following year.
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 Booker judging process and the very concept of a "best book" being
chosen by a small number of literary insiders is controversial for
The Guardian introduced the "Not the Booker Prize" voted for by
readers partly as a reaction to this. Author Amit Chaudhuri wrote
"The idea that a “book of the year” can be assessed annually by a
bunch of people – judges who have to read almost a book a day – is
absurd, as is the idea that this is any way of honouring a
The winner is usually announced at a ceremony in London's Guildhall,
usually in early October.
See also: List of winners and shortlisted authors of the Booker Prize
The 2017 prize was awarded to
George Saunders for Lincoln in the
In 1993, to mark the prize's 25th anniversary, a "Booker of Bookers"
Prize was given. 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 Best of the Booker was awarded in 2008 to celebrate the
prize's 40th anniversary. A shortlist of six winners was chosen and
the decision was left to a public vote; the winner was again
P. H. Newby
Something to Answer For
The Elected Member
J. G. Farrell
V. S. Naipaul
In a Free State
Trinidad and Tobago
J. G. Farrell
The Siege of Krishnapur
Ruth Prawer Jhabvala
Heat and Dust
The Sea, the Sea
Rites of Passage
J. M. Coetzee
Life & Times of Michael K
Hotel du Lac
The Bone People
The Old Devils
Oscar and Lucinda
The Remains of the Day
A. S. Byatt
The Famished Road
The English Patient
Paddy Clarke Ha Ha Ha
How Late It Was, How Late
Stream of consciousness
The Ghost Road
The God of Small Things
J. M. Coetzee
The Blind Assassin
True History of the Kelly Gang
Life of Pi
Fantasy and adventure novel
Vernon God Little
The Line of Beauty
The Inheritance of Loss
The White Tiger
The Finkler Question
The Sense of an Ending
Bring Up the Bodies
The Narrow Road to the Deep North
A Brief History of Seven Killings
United States of America
Lincoln in the Bardo
United States of America
^ In 1971, the nature of the Prize was changed so that it was awarded
to novels published in that year instead of in the previous year;
therefore, no novel published in 1970 could win the Booker Prize. This
was rectified in 2010 by the awarding of the "Lost Man Booker Prize"
to J. G. Farrell's Troubles.
A separate prize for which any living writer in the world may qualify,
Man Booker International Prize
Man Booker International Prize was inaugurated in 2005. Until
2015, it was given every two years to a living author of any
nationality for a body of work published in English or generally
available in English translation. In 2016, the award was significantly
reconfigured, and is now given annually to a single book in English
translation, with a £50,000 prize for the winning title, shared
equally between author and translator.
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.
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 (1969 through 2014), writers from
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. In 2015, the winner for 1915
was Ford Madox Ford's The Good Soldier, beating The Thirty-Nine Steps
Of Human Bondage
Of Human Bondage (W. Somerset Maugham), Psmith,
Journalist (P. G. Wodehouse) and
The Voyage Out
The Voyage Out (Virginia Woolf).
Booker Prize has been condemned for changing Wu Ming-Yi, a
Taiwanese authors nationality on their website without his consent.
Ming-Yi's book The Stolen Bicycle was longlisted for the Man
Booker Prize award. The Nationality of Ming-Yi was changed from Taiwan
to Taiwan, China which did not please him.
Commonwealth realms portal
List of British literary awards
List of literary awards
Commonwealth Writers Prize
Grand Prix of Literary Associations
Costa Book Awards
Governor General's Awards
Scotiabank Giller Prize
Miles Franklin Award
Russian Booker Prize
Samuel Johnson Prize (non-fiction)
German Book Prize
German Book Prize (Deutscher Buchpreis)
^ Sutherland, John (9 October 2008). "The Booker's Big Bang". New
Statesman. Retrieved 3 September 2009.
^ "Meet The Man
Booker Prize 2014 Judges". 12 December 2013.
^ a b "'A surprise and a risk': Reaction to
Booker Prize upheaval".
BBC News. 18 September 2013. Retrieved 19 September 2013.
^ Hoover, Bob (10 February 2008). "'Gathering' storm clears for prize
winner Enright". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Retrieved 10 February 2008.
In America, literary prizes are greeted with the same enthusiasm as a
low Steelers draft choice. Not so in the British Isles, where the
$98,000 Man Booker Fiction Prize can even push Amy Winehouse off the
front page – at least for a day. The atmosphere around the award
approaches sports-championship proportions, with London bookies
posting the ever-changing odds on the nominees. Then, in October when
the winner is announced live on the BBC TV evening news, somebody
always gets ticked off.
^ a b c d e f "Man Booker Prize: a history of controversy, criticism
and literary greats". The Guardian. 18 October 2011. Retrieved 18
^ "Booker Prize: legal information". bookerprize.com. Retrieved 3
^ James Kidd, "A Brief History of The Man Booker Prize", South China
Morning Post, 5 March 2006.
Lost Man Booker Prize announced". bookerprize.com. Archived
from the original on 2 December 2010. Retrieved 31 January 2010.
^ "Dear Life: Stories by
Alice Munro (Chatto & Windus, November)".
The Guardian. 13 July 2012. Retrieved 13 July 2012. As the only writer
to sneak on to the Booker shortlist for a collection of short stories
The Beggar Maid
The Beggar Maid in 1980),
Alice Munro easily deserves to end our
list of the year's best fiction.
^ Yates, Emma (15 August 2001). "
Booker Prize longlist announced for
first time". The Guardian. Retrieved 15 August 2001.
^ a b c Moss, Stephen (18 September 2001). "Is the Booker fixed?". The
Guardian. Retrieved 18 September 2001.
^ a b White, Michael (25 November 1972). "Berger's black bread". The
Guardian. p. 11.
John Berger on the
Booker Prize (1972)", YouTube.
^ Speech by
John Berger on accepting the
Booker Prize for Fiction at
the Café Royal in London on 23 November 1972.
^ "Lord of the novel wins the Booker prize". The Guardian. 22 October
1980. p. 1.
^ Bissett, Alan (27 July 2012). "The unnoticed bias of the Booker
prize". The Guardian. Retrieved 27 July 2012.
^ "A novel way of striking a 12,000
Booker Prize bargain", The
Guardian, 14 October 1981, p. 14.
^ "Novel way to run a lottery". The Guardian. 5 September 1994.
^ Glaister, Dan (14 October 1997). "Popularity pays off for Roy". The
Guardian. Archived from the original on 27 February 2005.
Booker Prize Archive". Oxford Brookes University. brokes.ac.uk.
Retrieved 25 October 2017.
^ Ezard, John (11 October 2005). "Irish stylist springs Booker
surprise". The Guardian. Retrieved 11 October 2005.
^ Crown, Sarah (10 October 2005). "Banville scoops the Booker". The
Guardian. Retrieved 10 October 2005.
^ Higgins, Charlotte (28 January 2009). "How Adam Foulds was a breath
away from the Costa book of the year award". The Guardian. Retrieved
28 January 2009.
^ Will Gompertz, "Global expansion for Booker Prize", BBC News, 18
^ Cain, Sian (2 February 2018). "Publishers call on Man Booker prize
to drop American authors". The Guardian. Retrieved 15 February
^ "Man Booker prize goes to second American author in a row".
Guardian. 17 October 2017. Retrieved 25 October 2017.
^ "Not the Booker prize". Guardian. 16 October 2017.
^ "My fellow authors are too busy chasing prizes to write about what
matters". Guardian. 15 August 2017.
^ Cain, Sian (2017-10-17). "Man Booker prize goes to second American
author in a row". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved
^ Mullan, John (12 July 2008). "Lives & letters, Where are they
now?". The Guardian. Retrieved 11 September 2011.
^ Pauli, Michelle (21 February 2008). "Best of the Booker". The
Guardian. Retrieved 3 September 2009.
^ "Rushdie wins Best of Booker prize". BBC News. 10 July 2008.
Retrieved 3 September 2009.
^ Jordison, Sam (21 November 2007). "Looking back at the Booker: PH
Newby". The Guardian.
^ Jordison, Sam (12 December 2007). "Looking back at the Booker:
Bernice Rubens". The Guardian.
^ Jordison, Sam (21 December 2007). "Looking back at the Booker: VS
Naipaul". The Guardian.
^ Jordison, Sam (9 January 2008). "Looking back at the Booker: John
Berger". The Guardian.
^ Jordison, Sam (23 January 2008). "Looking back at the Booker: JG
Farrell". The Guardian.
^ Jordison, Sam (27 February 2008). "Looking back at the Booker:
Nadine Gordimer". The Guardian.
^ Jordison, Sam (13 March 2008). "Looking back at the Booker: Stanley
Middleton". The Guardian.
^ Jordison, Sam (18 November 2008). "Booker club: Saville". The
^ Jordison, Sam (22 December 2008). "Booker club: Staying On". The
^ Jordison, Sam (11 February 2009). "Booker club: The Sea, the Sea".
^ Jordison, Sam (13 March 2009). "Booker club: Offshore". The
^ Jordison, Sam (15 April 2009). "Booker club: Rites of Passage". The
^ Jordison, Sam (10 July 2008). "
Midnight's Children is the right
winner". The Guardian.
^ Jordison, Sam (15 May 2009). "Booker club: Schindler's Ark". The
^ Jordison, Sam (16 June 2009). "Booker club: Life and Times of
Michael K". The Guardian.
^ Jordison, Sam (5 August 2009). "Booker club: Hotel du Lac". The
^ Jordison, Sam (20 November 2009). "Booker club:
The Bone People by
Keri Hulme". The Guardian.
^ Jordison, Sam (16 February 2010). "Booker club: The Old Devils". The
^ Jordison, Sam (19 March 2010). "Booker club: Moon Tiger". The
^ Jordison, Sam (28 May 2008). "Looking back at the Booker: Peter
Carey". The Guardian.
^ Jordison, Sam (26 November 2010). "Booker club: The Remains of the
Day". The Guardian.
^ Jordison, Sam (20 January 2011). "Booker club: The Famished Road".
^ Jordison, Sam (4 March 2011). "Booker club: The English Patient".
^ Jordison, Sam (10 June 2011). "Booker club: Sacred Hunger". The
^ Jordison, Sam (14 September 2011). "Booker club: How Late It Was,
How Late by James Kelman". The Guardian.
^ Jordison, Sam (6 June 2008). "Looking back at the Booker: Pat
Barker". The Guardian.
^ Jordison, Sam (24 July 2012). "Booker club:
Last Orders by Graham
Swift". The Guardian.
^ Jordison, Sam (6 December 2011). "Booker club: Amsterdam by Ian
McEwan". The Guardian.
^ Jordison, Sam (24 June 2008). "Looking back at the Booker: JM
Coetzee". The Guardian.
^ Jordison, Sam (22 August 2008). "Booker Club: The White Tiger". The
^ Melvern, Jack (20 May 2010). "J G Farrell wins Booker prize for
1970, 30-year after his death". The Times. Retrieved 23 December
The Good Soldier
The Good Soldier Wins The
Cheltenham Booker 1915 at 2015
Festival". Ford Madox Oxford Society. Retrieved 27 November 2016
^ staff, Guardian (2018-04-03). "Man Booker prize criticised for
changing Taiwanese author's nationality". the Guardian. Retrieved
Lee, Hermione (1981). "The Booker Prize: Matters of judgment". Times
Literary Supplement, reprinted 22 October 2008.
Wikimedia Commons has media related to Booker Prize.
Booker Prize Archive at Oxford Brookes University
A primer on the Man
Booker Prize and critical review of literature
Booker Prize 2013 Longlist announced 23 July 2013, updated with
Shortlist 10 September 2013
Recipients of the Booker Prize
List of winners and shortlisted authors
Booker of Bookers
The Best of the Booker
The Golden Man Booker
Man Booker International Prize
P. H. Newby (1969)
Bernice Rubens (1970)
J. G. Farrell
J. G. Farrell (Lost Man Booker Prize, 1970)
V. S. Naipaul
V. S. Naipaul (1971)
John Berger (1972)
J. G. Farrell
J. G. Farrell (1973)
Nadine Gordimer /
Stanley Middleton (1974)
Ruth Prawer Jhabvala
Ruth Prawer Jhabvala (1975)
David Storey (1976)
Paul Scott (1977)
Iris Murdoch (1978)
Penelope Fitzgerald (1979)
William Golding (1980)
Salman Rushdie (1981)
Thomas Keneally (1982)
J. M. Coetzee
J. M. Coetzee (1983)
Anita Brookner (1984)
Keri Hulme (1985)
Kingsley Amis (1986)
Penelope Lively (1987)
Peter Carey (1988)
Kazuo Ishiguro (1989)
A. S. Byatt
A. S. Byatt (1990)
Ben Okri (1991)
Michael Ondaatje /
Barry Unsworth (1992)
Roddy Doyle (1993)
James Kelman (1994)
Pat Barker (1995)
Graham Swift (1996)
Arundhati Roy (1997)
Ian McEwan (1998)
J. M. Coetzee
J. M. Coetzee (1999)
Margaret Atwood (2000)
Peter Carey (2001)
Yann Martel (2002)
DBC Pierre (2003)
Alan Hollinghurst (2004)
John Banville (2005)
Kiran Desai (2006)
Anne Enright (2007)
Aravind Adiga (2008)
Hilary Mantel (2009)
Howard Jacobson (2010)
Julian Barnes (2011)
Hilary Mantel (2012)
Eleanor Catton (2013)
Richard Flanagan (2014)
Marlon James (2015)
Paul Beatty (2016)