“Justice delayed is justice denied.”
- William E. Gladstone
Peter Straus, honorary archivist to the Booker Prize Foundation, begs to differ. Now, thanks to him, Melvyn Bragg, Len Deighton, J.G. Farrell, Susan Hill, David Lodge, Ruth Rendell and Patrick White are just some of the authors who could win The Lost Man Booker Prize– a one-off prize to honor books published in 1970 which missed out on the opportunity to win the Booker Prize. As the Man Booker’s web site explains:
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.
Now, 40 years on, a panel of three judges – all of whom were born in or around 1970 – has been appointed to select a shortlist of six novels from those books…
Their shortlist will be chosen from a longlist of 22 books which would have been eligible and are still in print and generally available today. They are:
o Brian Aldiss, The Hand Reared Boy
o H.E.Bates, A Little Of What You Fancy?
o Nina Bawden, The Birds On The Trees
o Melvyn Bragg, A Place In England
o Christy Brown, Down All The Days
o Len Deighton, Bomber
o J.G.Farrell, Troubles
o Elaine Feinstein, The Circle
o Shirley Hazzard, The Bay Of Noon
o Reginald Hill, A Clubbable Woman
o Susan Hill, I’m The King Of The Castle
o Francis King, A Domestic Animal
o Margaret Laurence, The Fire Dwellers
o David Lodge, Out Of The Shelter
o Iris Murdoch, A Fairly Honourable Defeat
o Shiva Naipaul, Fireflies
o Patrick O’Brian, Master and Commander
o Joe Orton, Head To Toe
o Mary Renault, Fire From Heaven
o Ruth Rendell, A Guilty Thing Surprised
o Muriel Spark, The Driver’s Seat
o Patrick White, The Vivisector
I noticed that when Robertson Davies’ Fifth Business was first published it carried encomiums from Saul Bellow and John Fowles both of whom judged the 1971 Booker Prize. However judges for 1971 said it had not been considered or submitted. This led to an investigation which concluded that a year had been excluded. I am delighted that, even in a Darwinian way, this year, with so many extraordinary novels, can now be covered by the Man Booker Prize.
Your correspondent notes, with some regret, that in the end, Davies’ novel didn’t make the list…
As thoughts of 1971 lead us to muse that we still don’t know what became of D.B. Cooper, we might pause to celebrate a master of quantity, if not quality: Stephen J. Cannell was born on this date in 1941. Cannell created or co-created nearly 40 television series, mostly crime dramas, including The Rockford Files, The Greatest American Hero, The A-Team, Wiseguy, 21 Jump Street, Silk Stalkings, and The Commish. In the process he scripted more than 450 episodes, and produced or executive produced over 1,500 episodes. At the turn of the century, Cannell turned his attention to the novel; he has to date written 14.