Thursday, May 20, 2010

Farrell's Troubles Wins Lost Booker

Troubles by J.G. Farrell, the first novel of his Empire Trilogyhas been declared the winner of the Lost Man Booker Prize, forty years after it was first published. You may remember reading on this blog that this special prize was awarded by the Booker committee to honour the books that fell through the net when the rules were changed in 1970.

The press release describes the book :
Set in Ireland in 1919, just after the First World War, Troubles tells the tragic-comic story of Major Brendan Archer who has gone to visit Angela, a woman he believes may be his fiancée. Her home, from which he is unable to detach himself, is the dilapidated Majestic, a once grand Irish hotel, and all around is the gathering storm of the Irish War of Independence.
Claire Armistead in The Guardian says :
... to say that Farrell is a predictable winner is to undervalue his extraordinary resurrection and what it says about readers' continuing ability to recognise a great book when they see one. Troubles is a work of characteristic depth and humour, which views the decline of the British empire through the prism of a decaying seaside hotel – pointedly named the Majestic – in Wexford. ... Farrell's gift was the ability to immerse himself so thoroughly in his worlds, whether early 20th-century Ireland or mid-19th century India, that he never seems to preach as he tackles the big issues of race, culture and class.
It sounds as if the finding of the Lost Booker was a very valuable exercise indeed.  If Farrell had actually won in 1970, he would have been the first author to have won the prize twice.

Sadly, Farrell drowned while out fishing, aged 44.

Postscript :

Sam Jordison on The Guardian blog says :
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.

1 comment:

Unknown said...

Had him confused with JG Ballard until the best of booker list came out where his Siege of Krishanpur was nominated...I read his Singapore Grip recently and found the book a superb read with strong evocation of the place and events leading to the surrender to the japanese. Added bonus, by far the best description of our tropical weather. It also makes a good companion to the Malayan Trilogy, in throwing some light on (colonial)lives in Peninsula Malaya in that period.