The Booker Prize 1981

Salman Rushdie, Graham Swift and Malcolm Bradbury

Salman Rushdie in conversation at the 1981 Booker Prize ceremony

A book so good it won a Booker Prize three times. Salman Rushdie’s Midnight’s Children went on to scoop the anniversary Booker of Bookers and The Best of the Booker prizes too.

Rushdie won Booker Prize bragging rights when he became the first of the golden generation – Kazuo Ishiguro, Martin Amis, Julian Barnes, Ian McEwan and Graham Swift et al – to win the prize. His story, an allegory with a dose of magical realism and an underpinning of real events, is set around partition and the independence of India and is held as an exemplar of post-colonial fiction.

It also gained Rushdie the dubious distinction of a defamation case brought by the Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi.  

By
Salman Rushdie
Published by
Jonathan Cape
Saleem’s life is a whirlwind of disasters and triumphs that mirror the course of modern India at its most impossible, in Salman Rushdie’s masterpiece.

The Shortlist

Rhine Journey
Loitering With Intent
The White Hotel
Midnight's Children
Prize winner
Good Behaviour
The Sirian Experiments
The Comfort of Strangers

A world was created full of clamour and scent, food smells, flowers and colour. I can still remember the thrill of its magic, the nosebleed turning to rubies on the page.

— Helena Kennedy