Towards the end of a long career as an art historian, Anita Brookner turned to fiction and Hotel du Lac, her fourth novel, triumphed over a heavyweight Booker Prize shortlist.
Brookner herself was surprised: she had thought J.G. Ballard’s Empire of the Sun would win and claimed, in very Brooknerish fashion, that the first thing she’d do with the prize money would be to have her shoes resoled. She went on to be a prolific novelist; over the next two decades publishing almost a book a year.
Her fiction, often dealing with lonely and alienated women, was both timeless and stylish and The Next Big Thing won her a place on the Man Booker Prize longlist in 2002.