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The Booker Prizes Backlist

The Booker Prize 1971

The Winner

In a Free State

By V.S. Naipaul

Published by Deutsch

In the beginning it is just a car trip through Africa. Two English people – Bobby, a civil servant with a guilty appetite for African boys, and Linda, a supercilious ‘compound wife’ – are driving back to their enclave after a stay in the capital.

But in between lies the landscape of an unnamed country whose squalor and ethnic bloodletting suggest Idi Amin’s Uganda. And the farther Naipaul’s protagonists travel into it, the more they find themselves crossing the line that separates privileged outsiders from horrified victims.

The Shortlist

The 1971 Judges

John Gross (Chair) 

Saul Bellow

John Fowles

Lady Antonia Fraser

Philip Toynbee