Our all-time favourite Man Booker Prize-winning novels

21 October 2016

The Man Booker Prize announcement is always a big moment in the literary calendar, with the longlisted, shortlisted and eventual winning books all guaranteed a big boost in popularity and media attention.

Over the years we’ve been fortunate enough to have three of our authors claim the overall prize, as well as many more on the long and shortlists. So, with this year’s Man Booker Prize winner announced this week, we decided to take a look at some of our favourite past winners.


1971: V. S. Naipaul, In a Free State

The Nobel Prize-winning V.S. Naipaul has sold millions of books in his lifetime, and this is certainly one of his finest. Three parts build to an overall theme of displacement and yearning for the good place in someone else’s land.

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1978: Iris Murdoch, The Sea, the Sea

The fourth of Murdoch’s books to be shortlisted (and the first to win), it’s a classic about a theatre director and playwright working on his memoirs, and the vanity, self-deceit and obsessions that have driven his life, as a romantic figure from his past comes back to affect him.

 

 

1987: Penelope Lively, Moon Tiger

Going back and forth in time from pre, post and during World War II, as a historian on her deathbed explores her own personal history, tackling the passions and pains that have defined who she is.  

 

 

 

 

1996: Graham Swift, Last Orders

Four men gather to carry out their old friend’s last wish: to have his ashes scattered into the sea. On the surface the tale of a simple if increasingly bizarre day’s outing, Last Orders is Graham Swift’s most poignant exploration of the complexity and courage of ordinary lives.

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2000: Margaret Atwood, The Blind Assassin 

Another brilliant read from the great Canadian author and poet, The Blind Assassin was also shortlisted for the Orange Prize for Fiction (now known as the Baileys prize). Set in Ontario, it spans events that take place throughout the twentieth century and also contains a novel within a novel.

 

 

 

2004: Alan Hollinghurst, The Line of Beauty

A classic novel about class, politics and sexuality in Margaret Thatcher's 1980s Britain, it follows a young man innocently swept up in an era of endless possibility, while pursuing his own private obsession with beauty.

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2005: John Banville, The Sea

The most recent Picador winner, about an art historian who returns to the seaside village where he once spent a childhood holiday, to both escape a recent loss and confront a distant trauma.

 

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2008: Aravind Adiga, The White Tiger

The 40th Booker winner, this is Aravind’s debut novel and, at 33, he was the second youngest author to win the prize. It tackles themes of globalization, freedom and class struggle through the eyes and words of one young man.

 

SAMPLE ARAVIND’S LATEST NOVEL, SELECTION DAY

 

2012: Hilary Mantel, Bring Up the Bodies

The sequel to Mantel’s other Booker-winning novel, Wolf Hall in 2009, and the middle chapter in her trilogy charting the rise and fall of Thomas Cromwell in the court of Henry VIII. The final part, The Mirror and the Light, is currently in the works.

 

 

 

2015: Marlon James, A Brief History of Seven Killings

Last year’s worthy winner, it uses the attempted assassination of Bob Marley as the catalyst for a story spanning several decades, various locations and a huge cast of over 75 characters.