The Man Booker Prize for Fiction is a literary award handed out each year for the best novel written in English and published in the UK. It was first awarded in 1969. In addition to literary acclaim, winners also receive £50,000.
There have been 50 winning novels—one for every year, plus extras in 1974 and 1992 when there were ties, and a Lost Man Booker Prize in 1970, which was a special edition of the prize voted on by the public.
So what does it take to win the Man Booker Prize? Obviously, the novel must be deemed extraordinary, but are there any other factors that help an author’s chances?
Flipsnack, a software provider, wanted to find out, so it looked at the data for all winners to see if there were any common threads.
Here is an interactive feature that lets you filter the elements, and below are some of the highlights.
• Author nationality – More than half the winners have been British (56 percent)
• Gender – 66 percent have been male
• Average age – 49
• Average number of books previously published – 7; only four authors have won the prize with their first novel
• Genre – Historical fiction (48 percent); contemporary fiction (38 percent)
• Average length – 370 pages
• Protagonist’s gender – 84 percent have been male
• Perspective – Third person (66 percent)
• Setting – 22 of the 50 previous winners have been set in the UK and Ireland; 8 have been set in India
• Average Goodreads score – 3.7, meaning that many of the winning books aren’t actually readers’ favorites
• Average Flesch-Kincaid readability score – 75.0
According to Flipsnack’s analysis, the highest number of winners are male, British and middle-aged. And the highest number of novels are about a man, written in the third person and under 400 pages.
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