Troubles 2

Farrell wins Booker 40 years on

By Irish Echo Staff


J.G. Farrell has won the Booker Prize 30 years after his death for his Irish War of Independence-set novel, “Troubles.”

He posthumously joins an elite group of just three double winners of Britain’s most prestigious literary prize, having also won in 1973 for “The Siege of Krishnapur.”

A rule change in 1971 meant that the novels of 1970 were not considered. Six still in-print novels were shortlisted recently for the lost year. Farrell’s book won 38 percent of the votes cast.

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Farrell was born into an Irish family in Liverpool in 1935. He died after slipping from a rock while fishing off the southwest coast of Ireland in August 1979.

“Farrell is an eccentric and highly gifted writer,” The Times of London review of “Troubles” said on Oct. 8, 1970. “There is a depth and compassion in his work rare among contemporary novelists, and a sense of style which may owe something to Nabokov.”

Deborah Rogers, who was Farrell’s agent, said: “Troubles was critically well received, but it never really got the breadth of response that it deserved. He would be very pleased and think, ‘Not before time’.”

His brother Richard Farrell, 67, accepted the prize at a ceremony in London last night. “To me, the book is a time machine. It takes me back to our childhood — growing up in Ireland, the smell of peat smoke in the air,” the Times of London reported him saying.

The Booker Prize is open to writers born in the U.K., the Commonwealth, Zimbabwe and Ireland. The other double winners are the South African J.M. Coetzee and Peter Carey, who is Australian.