At the time of the 1988 prize, Sebastian Faulks was not yet a well-known novelist and radio presence but a literary journalist on the still new Independent with a single book to his name.

Faulks came to prominence as a writer with Birdsong (1993), which has gone on to sell more than three million copies. ‘It’s quite an operatic book,’ Faulks has confessed, ‘and the volume is turned up to 11 on everything.’ He has written a further 14 novels and claims that ‘A lot of my books are me trying to find out what the hell is going on in life’; historical fiction has been his preferred avenue. Faulks’s gift for literary mimicry led to a commission to write a new James Bond story, The Devil May Care, as well as appear on BBC Radio 4’s quiz The Write Stuff.