The year the prize was opened up to every nationality. Fears that Americans would now dominate were allayed with a second Antipodean winner in a row, with another historical novel.
The pre-prize chatter, some of it very heated, was about the wisdom or otherwise of allowing any novel written in English and published in the UK to compete – in other words, Americans. Critics feared a transatlantic invasion, although in the event only two US writers, Joshua Ferris and Karen Joy Fowler, made the shortlist.
It was Richard Flanagan, with a novel about illicit love and the brutal treatment of prisoners forced to build the Burma railway, who triumphed – the third Australian to win the prize.
Winner The Booker Prize 2014
By Ali Smith