Tuesday, 11 October 2005

The Man Booker Prize was won last night by John Banville for The Sea. Here are a few features of the book that seem to have passed many other commentators by (although I suspect that Grumpy Old Bookman has noticed them, but does not care).

The Sea is the first Booker winner to have a title consisting of exactly half of a previous winner's title (Iris Murdoch's The Sea, The Sea won in 1978).

The Sea is the 13th winner to start with The. Since there have been 39 winners since the prize began this is a hit rate of exactly one in three.

The Sea is the shortest winning title (6 letters and a space) since John Berger's G in 1972. It is the 8th winner to have a two-word title. There have been 6 winners with one-word titles (including Berger's).

John Banville is the second person called John to win the Booker (he is also the first person called Banville to win it, but that is less remarkable.) J M Coetzee is named John, but calls himself J M, which is why he doesn't count.

John Banville is the first male writer to win the Booker in a year ending in 5 (years ending in 0 have also been good for women, with only William Golding in 1980 bucking the trend).

No Booker prize winner has had the word or in the title. I don't think that any have featured an elephant in a leading role, although Yann Martel's Life of Pi was originally going to have one instead of a tiger.


Julie said...

You know, I'm glad for John Banville and all, but if you correct my spelling on my blog again, even in a witty way, I might have to give you a slap. It would serve you right if I started correcting your punctuation. For example the fact that "two-word title" and "one-word title" should be hyphenated. And that in your first, fourth, fifth, and sixth paragraphs the full stop should be outside the brackets.

And I haven't sent the chocolate yet, so don't get all complacent, sir.

Outraged in Reading

Stephen said...


I've done my corrections now, Miss.

How should I correct your spelling in future?

Julie said...

I maintain that my spelling is 100% accurate. At times, the rest of the English-speaking world may be at fault.