Late author J. G. Farrell wins 'Lost Booker Prize'

20th May 2010, Comments 0 comments

The late author J.G. Farrell was honoured Wednesday for his novel "Troubles" 40 years after it was first published, in an unusual take on Britain's most prestigious literary award, the Booker Prize.

He scooped The Lost Booker Prize, an award for books from 1970 which missed out the first time around because of a rule change in 1971.

Previously the prize, which began in 1969, was retrospective, meaning the 1970 award went to novels published the previous year -- but the 1971 prize went to those published in 1971.

Farrell, who died at the age of 44 in 1979, beat off competition from authors including Muriel Spark and Nina Bawden to pick up the award for the second time.

"Troubles" -- the first novel in Farrell's trilogy about the British empire -- received a clear majority, winning 38 percent of votes cast by the public in an online ballot to come top of the six-strong shortlist.

Set in Ireland in 1919, it tells the story of Major Brendan Archer who goes to visit a woman living in the dilapidated Majestic, a once grand Irish hotel, surrounded by the gathering storm of the Irish war of independence.

"Troubles is a novel of such lasting quality that it has never been out of print in the 40 years since it was first published," said Booker Prize literary director Ion Trewin.

The author previously won the prize in 1973 for his second book in the trilogy, "The Siege of Krishnapur," which takes place during the Indian Rebellion of 1857.

Only two other authors have ever scooped the Booker Prize twice -- J. M. Coetzee and Peter Carey.

The prize -- a designer-bound first edition copy of the book -- was accepted at a London ceremony on the author's behalf by his brother, Richard Farrell.

"This is a bittersweet moment to me," he said.

"It's sweet for obvious reasons but it's bitter because Jim can't be here to accept the prize himself."

J. G. Farrell, who was born in Liverpool, northwest England, and drowned in 1979 in a fishing accident in County Cork, Ireland.

Spark was shortlisted for her work "The Driver's Seat," and Bawden for "The Birds on the Trees."

One of the most prestigious awards in English-language literature, the annual Booker Prize goes to the best work of fiction by an author from the Commonwealth or the Republic of Ireland.

© 2010 AFP

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