Penelope Fitzgerald: A Life

Jenny Turner writes:

Nobody expected Penelope Fitzgerald to win the Booker Prize in 1979 for her novel Offshore. Keneally was also on the shortlist, with Naipaul’s A Bend in the River the clear frontrunner. Julian Barnes remembers Paul Theroux, who was judging, saying he would ‘skim out into the pampas’ the candidates he considered non-starters; back from Patagonia, there he sat at the Booker dinner, ‘a polite smile on his face’. ‘I couldn’t help enjoying the dinner,’ Fitzgerald wrote to a friend shortly afterwards, ‘though the Evening Standard man told me frankly that they’d all written their pieces about Naipaul and felt they were free to get drunk.’

(LRB 19 December 2013)

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