Michael Caine, Peter Carey, Salman Rushdie and friends at the Booker Prize event 1988
Peter Carey’s first Booker Prize win, for Oscar and Lucinda, took the honours but Salman Rushdie’s The Satanic Verses offered terrifying proof that literature could be truly dangerous.
Having been shortlisted in 1985, the Australian Carey triumphed in a year when books made the news for the wrong reasons. The approbation that greeted Carey’s quirky tale of a glass church and a bet in rural 19th-century Australia was in glaring contrast to the firestorm that hit Rushdie with the publication of The Satanic Verses.
The Iranian fatwa issued against him left him in hiding under police protection. Although the novel was shortlisted, literary prizes suddenly seemed to belong to a parallel universe.