The then youngest winner in Ben Okri for The Famished Road and another episode of judging pique when Nicholas Mosley walked out in protest at the non-shortlisting of a favoured book.

Mosley, who had been on the first ever Booker Prize shortlist, was adamant that Allan Massie’s The Sins of the Fathers deserved a tilt at the prize. When his fellow judges refused to budge he promptly resigned, ‘partly in a huff,’ he said, ‘but also… to strike a blow for ideas’.

The stripling Okri, then 32, went on to triumph with a lush tale full of mysticism and spirits set in post-colonial Nigeria. Okri later said gnomically that: ‘The novel was written to give myself reasons to live.’

Ben Okri
Published by
Jonathan Cape
Ben Okri’s unique Booker Prize-winning epic, narrated by ‘an unwilling adventurer into chaos and sunlight, into the dreams of the living and the dead’

The Shortlist

The Famished Road
Prize winner
Time's Arrow
The Van
The Redundancy of Courage
Reading Turgenev

The 1991 judges