The Booker Prize 1972

Not everyone enjoyed John Berger's winning speech...

John Berger, 1972

Proof of the prize’s new high profile came when John Berger used his platform as winner to make things political and donated half his prize money to the Black Panther movement.

Berger took umbrage with the prize sponsor, Booker McConnell. The food group, said the Marxist art critic and novelist, had benefited from more than a century of colonial exploitation in the West Indies so he was giving half his winnings to the British Black Panthers and keeping the other half for a study of migrant workers.

The fuss did wonders for the profile of the prize but less so for Berger (‘a literary thug’ as one newspaper named him) at the time, or his overshadowed winning novel, G.  

John Berger
Published by
Weidenfeld & Nicolson
John Berger relates the story of ‘G’, a young man forging an energetic sexual career in Europe during the early years of the twentieth century.

The Shortlist

The Bird of Night
Prize winner