Kingsley Amis, a two-time shortlistee, became the prize’s biggest fan when The Old Devils triumphed. The award, he decided, ‘was a wonderful indication of literary merit’.

Amis’s win raised many an eyebrow not just because it contained high levels of comedy but because the author was widely assumed to have passed his peak and become something of a caricature, fuelled by drink and misogyny.

Four of the five judges were women and they clearly saw beyond any personal quirks to a book about a group of bibulous elderly Welsh friends that is unsparing about the indignities of age but shot through with warmth and an unsuspected faith in the power of love.  

Kingsley Amis
Published by
Kingsley Amis won the 1986 Booker for The Old Devils, which is considered by many, including his son and fellow author Martin, to be his masterpiece.

The Shortlist

The Old Devils
Prize winner
Gabriel's Lament
An Insular Possession

The 1986 judges