The Booker Prize at 50 Eleanor Catton, Stuart Kelly & Derek Johns

Eleanor Catton, Stuart Kelly and Derek Johns discuss the history of the world’s most famous literary prize

The Booker Prize turns 50 this year. Once dismissed as ‘posh bingo’ by Julian Barnes (but not after he himself won it), the Booker is one of the leading literary prizes in the world. Eleanor Catton, whose novel The Luminaries won the prize in 2013, discusses the importance of prizes to writers with Stuart Kelly and Derek Johns. Stuart was a judge of the prize in 2013, and Derek is a member of the Advisory Committee of the Booker Foundation.

‘An immense feat of structuring and plotting which means that this novel starts as a gentle stroll and ends with the exhilarating sense of running downhill … Ambitious, intricate, spectacular’ 


Eleanor Catton

Eleanor Catton was born in 1985 in Canada and raised in New Zealand. Her debut novel The Rehearsal garnered prizes and acclaim around the world, including the 2009 Betty Trask Award. It has since been published in 17 territories and 12 languages. She holds an MFA from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, where she also held an adjunct professorship, and an MA in fiction writing from the International Institute of Modern Letters. She lives in Auckland, New Zealand.

Stuart Kelly

Stuart Kelly is a Scottish critic and author. He is the literary editor of The Scotsman.

His works include The Book Of Lost Books: An Incomplete Guide To All The Books You’ll Never Read (2005), Scott-Land: The Man Who Invented A Nation (2010) (which was longlisted for the BBC Samuel Johnson Prize for Non-Fiction) and The Minister and the Murderer (2018). Kelly writes for The Scotsman, Scotland On Sunday, The Guardian and The Times. In 2013 Kelly was a judge for the Man Booker Prize. In 2016/17 Kelly was president of The Edinburgh Sir Walter Scott Club