The year of double winners, a rule change, and chewed Booker Prize knuckles when the judges couldn’t separate Barry Unsworth’s Sacred Hunger and Michael Ondaatje’s The English Patient.

With the award ceremony dinner looming and the organisers’ nerves fraying, Victoria Glendinning’s panel eventually split the prize. It was, however, a compromise that suited no one and the prize committee decided that from then on only one book could win (until the 2019 judges decided otherwise).

Ondaatje’s novel went on to Oscars’ glory courtesy of Anthony Minghella’s film, while the always modest Unsworth reflected: ‘My book would still be here if I hadn’t won, it would still be as good – or as bad.’

Michael Ondaatje
Published by
Set in 1945, Michael Ondaatje’s brilliant and moving historical fiction has been translated into 40 languages and turned into an Oscar-winning film.
Barry Unsworth
Published by
Hamish Hamilton
Barry Unsworth’s gripping historical novel about the Atlantic slave trade shared the 1992 Booker Prize with Michael Ondaatje’s The English Patient.

The Shortlist

The English Patient
Prize winner
Sacred Hunger
Prize winner
Serenity House
The Butcher Boy
Black Dogs

The 1992 judges