The Lost Man Booker Prize : Shirley Hazzard, Mary Renault, H.E.Bates, Melvyn Bragg

by |February 4, 2010

A quick look at the list of Man Booker Prize Winners is enough to convince anyone that it is the premier literary award.

Peter Carey, Margaret Atwood, Ian McEwan, Salman Rushdie, Hilary Mantel, William Golding, Arundhati Roy to name but a few winners…

And yet we can always come up with the names of authors who are not listed and we believe should be.

Well, recently the Man Booker has made a startling admission – they missed a year.

Our favourite author may still have a chance to win!

Here’s what they had to say:

‘In 1971, just two years after it began, the Booker Prize ceased to be awarded retrospectively and became, as it is today, a prize for the best novel in the year of publication. At the same time, the date on which the award was given moved from April to November. As a result of these changes, there was whole year’s gap when a wealth of fiction, published in 1970, fell through the net. These books were simply never considered for the prize.’

They go on to offer us a long-list of eligible titles:

Quite a list, really. Many great names, but some which would not, I think, be included on a proper list today.

Shall we put on our cynic’s spectacles? Let’s!

We can begin shortening the list by removing those who may be considered too successful (ie: popular) for the Booker judges – Ruth Rendell, Reginald Hill, Len Deighton and Patrick O’Brian… Easily done.

Now we may look again… Oh no, there are a few names which won’t be instantly recognisable to contemporary intellectuals (ie: 15 year old TV journalists). They must go. Bye, Bye, Nina Bawden, H.E. Bates, Christy Brown, Elaine Feinstein, Brian Aldiss, Francis King, Margaret Laurence, Shiva Naipaul and Mary Renault.

Oh, and some have already won the Man Booker or other prestigious awards – that will not do… Ciao, Patrick White, J.G.Farrell, Muriel Spark and Iris Murdoch (dead people never come to award ceremonies anyway).

We can omit Melvyn Bragg because, well… you know… he’s been on the telly. Susan Hill can be eliminated, she isn’t consistently literary. And Joe Orton would be too obvious.

We are left with Shirley Hazzard and David Lodge. What a final!

In conclusion, having thought long and hard, I think Patrick O’Brian should get it.

3 Comments Share:

About the Contributor

John Purcell (aka Natasha Walker) is the author of The Secret Lives of Emma trilogy published by Random House Australia. The Secret Lives of Emma: Beginnings reached the top ten on the Australian fiction charts and Natasha/John was the tenth highest selling Australian novelist and third highest selling Australian debut author in 2012. The trilogy has since sold over 50,000 copies in print and ebook and has been translated into French and Polish. John has worked in the book industry for the last twenty years. While still in his twenties he opened John’s Bookshop, a second-hand bookshop in Mosman in which he sat for ten years reading, ranting and writing. Now he is the Head of Product and Chief Buyer at

Follow John: Twitter Website


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *