George Saunders is congratulated as the winning announcement is made
The 2017 Man Booker Prize was won by George Saunders for his polyphonic Lincoln in the the Bardo, proving perhaps that the dead can speak, eloquently. The short story writer’s first novel made him the second American to win the prize.
Saunders was already a lauded writer of short stories, novellas and essays when he won the prize with his, thus far, only novel. It tells of President’s Lincoln’s grief at the death of his son Willie and is set in the bardo, a state between death and reincarnation.
Having heard the Lincoln story, Saunders put off writing it for years until goaded into action by the fear of being (in his own words) ‘the guy whose own gravestone would read “Afraid to Embark on Scary Artistic Project He Desperately Longed to Attempt”’.
The panel of judges for the 2017 Man Booker Prize was chaired by Baroness Lola Young.
Other members of the judging panel included literary critic Lila Azam Zanganeh; Man Booker Prize shortlisted novelist, Sarah Hall; artist, Tom Phillips CBE RA; and travel writer, Colin Thubron CBE.
In the videos below, they discuss their experiences with creating the longlist and shortlist for 2017’s prize and how they came to a winner. You can also watch the moment the winner is announced at 2017’s ceremony.