Monday, May 24, 2010

Lost and found: why JG Farrell's Troubles deserved its belated Booker win hands-down
It may be four decades overdue, but at least JG Farrell's Lost Booker triumph will bring his work of genius to the wider audience it deserves
Posted by Sam Jordison
Friday 21 May 2010

The best book won. JG Farrell's Troubles took more than twice as many votes as any other book on the shortlist for the Lost Booker prize – and quite right, too.

Photo - Triumph for Troubles … Richard Farrell, the brother of the late JG Farrell at the Lost Booker prize ceremony. Photograph: Matt Dunham/AP

That's not to deride the competition. The Vivisector, in particular, could give most recent Booker winners a serious run for their money. But it doesn't approach the wonder of Troubles. Farrell's portrayal of the fast-decaying Majestic Hotel and England's even more rapidly crumbling rule in Ireland surely adds up to one of the best books of the last half-century, let alone 1970.

At the award ceremony in Fitzroy Square on Wednesday night, Lady Antonia Fraser (who judged the prize in 1970 and 1971 - and so helped select the winners from the shortlists either side of the "lost" year) declared Troubles one of her "very favourite books". She spoke so highly of Farrell that it can only be assumed that. had the award not skipped a year, she would have voted for Troubles to win back in 1970, too.

Everyone I questioned seemed to share her high opinion. The rival claims of the other books on the shortlist were barely mentioned. A few expressed relief that Muriel Spark's many fans hadn't voted for one of her weaker books as a matter of misguided faith. There also circulated a cheeky rumour that Farrell left his publisher Jonathan Cape because they were promoting The Vivisector at the expense of Troubles. The award, it was agreed, provided ample vindication for that decision. I've never been at a literary gathering where there was such accord.
The full story here.

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