Philip Pullman confessed he thought his publisher had submitted The Amber Spyglass for the Booker Prize 'in the spirit of putting 50p on Laughing Boy in the Grand National'.

The Amber Spyglass was the third book in Pullman’s phenomenally successful ‘young adult’ series His Dark Materials - not that he is keen on age-banding books, which he has likened to ‘moving along a line like a monkey climbing a stick: now you’re seven, so you read these books; and now you’re nine so you read these’. When challenged that His Dark Materials books are fantasy novels he said that he never reads fantasy since ‘it’s not satisfying’. His trilogy was instead ‘stark realism’. Pullman is also president of the William Blake Society and an impassioned voice on subjects as varied as civil liberties and the Oxford Comma.

Philip Pullman was also shortlisted, for his entire body of work, for the Man Booker International Prize 2011.

Philip Pullman


Between 2005 - 2015, the Man Booker International Prize recognised one writer for their achievement in fiction.

Worth £60,000, the prize was awarded every two years to a living author who had published fiction either originally in English or whose work is generally available in translation in the English language.

The winner was chosen solely at the discretion of the judging panel and there were no submissions from publishers.

The Man Booker International Prize was different from the annual Man Booker Prize for Fiction in that it highlighted one writer’s overall contribution to fiction on the world stage. In focusing on overall literary excellence, the judges considered a writer’s body of work rather than a single novel. 

All nominated books

The Amber Spyglass by Philip Pullman