Thursday 14 December 2017

Third time unlucky as Barry fails to make Booker Prize cut

Sebastian Barry: on the
Booker shortlist twice
Sebastian Barry: on the Booker shortlist twice

John Spain Books Editor

IT was third time unlucky for author Sebastian Barry yesterday when his latest novel failed to make this year's Man Booker Prize shortlist.

Barry was previously shortlisted in 2005 for 'A Long Long Way', and in 2008 for 'The Secret Scripture', when he was the hot favourite but failed to win.

The Booker itself is worth only £60,000 -- or just under €70,000 -- but the real payback is in extra sales, which can be 10 times that amount due to the instant international recognition.

His new novel, 'On Canaan's Side' -- the story of an old Irish woman who has lived for years in America -- made this year's Booker longlist of 13 novels in July and was highly praised by critics everywhere.

After the disappointment in 2008, his many fans were hoping that this would be his year. Mr Barry said he was very disappointed but was being philosophical.

"In boxing terms it's a KO; in human terms it's OK," he said yesterday.

If it's any consolation to him, this year's hot favourite, British writer Alan Hollinghurst, who won in 2004 for 'The Line of Beauty', also failed to make the shortlist announced yesterday for his acclaimed novel 'The Stranger's Child'.

In fact, the only really big name to make this year's shortlist is Julian Barnes, the bookies' choice to take the prize when it is announced next month.

British novelist Barnes has been shortlisted three times before but has never won. His novel, 'The Sense of an Ending', is about male sexual jealousy.


The judges seemed to have a preference for shorter, less literary books this year, which may have worked against both Hollinghurst and Barry.

It is also notable that only one of the shortlisted books is from a publishing conglomerate (the Julian Barnes novel is published by Cape, which is part of Random House). All the other books are from small independent publishers.

But for Sebastian Barry, it's a case of what's another year?

His day will come.

Irish Independent

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