And the Lost prize goes to…

by thiszine

BY JOHN COLEMAN

Troubles by J.G. Farrell is the winner of the Lost Man Booker Prize.

The one-off award was announced with a twenty-two novel longlist (quickly shortened to twenty-one due to publication discrepancies) on February 1, 2010 to acknowledge the best literary fiction of 1970. Honourary archivist for the Booker Prize Foundation Peter Strauss came up with the idea when he discovered that 1970 publications were excluded from Booker Prize recognition because the decoration switched in 1971 from being a retrospective award to an annual award for the novel judged as best in that publication year. The untimely switch saw 1970 publications disregarded for the Booker Prize. Ion Trewin, literary director of Man Booker Prizes commented on the Man Booker Prize website that “Our longlist demonstrates that 1970 was a remarkable year for fiction written in English. Recognition for these novels and the eventual winner is long overdue.”

The shortlist for the Lost Man Booker Prize, announced on March 25, 2010, was comprised of six novels: The Birds On The Trees by Nina Bawden, The Bay Of Noon by Shirley Hazzard, Fire From Heaven by Haley Renault, The Driver’s Seat by Muriel Spark, The Vivisector by Patrick White, and Troubles by J.G. Farrell. The shortlist was narrowed down by a panel of three judges: journalist and critic Rachel Cooke, ITN newsreader Katie Derham, and poet/novelist Tobias Hill, who were all born in or around 1970. After the shortlist was determined, the winner’s fate fell to the public by way of online voting, which closed on April 23, 2010. The winner was announced May 19, 2010.

J.G. Farrell was a novelist of Anglo-Irish background and born in Liverpool, England in 1935, he died in 1979. In 1956 he began studying at Brasenose College in Oxford, England, and graduated in 1960 with Third-Degree Honours in French and Spanish. While at Oxford Farrell contracted polio which left him diseased and crippled for the remainder of his life, themes prominent in his 1965 novel The Lung. His first work, A Man From Elsewhere, was published in 1963.

Troubles takes place in 1919 Ireland and follows recent British Army discharge Major Brendan Archer, now living at the Majestic Hotel on the Wexford coast of south-east Ireland. The Majestic is owned by Archer’s presumed fiancé’s elderly father Edward Spencer. The Spencers are an Anglo-Irish Protestant family who counter Archer’s Anglo-Irish Catholic perspective. The story progresses with the breakdown of social relationships between these clashing ideologies, represented by the slow decay of the Majestic Hotel. Troubles won the Faber Memorial Prize in 1971, and is the first novel in Farrell’s historical fiction Empire Trilogy, preceding The Siege of Krishnapur (1973) which won the Booker Prize, and The Singapore Grip (1978). Ironically, if Troubles was awarded the Booker Prize in 1970, Farrell would go on to be the first double winner of the prize with The Siege of Krishnapur.

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