This article is from 2006.
John Banville is living proof of the maxim that ‘all good things come to those who wait.’ The former literary editor of the Irish Times may have scooped the Booker Prize last year, but his achievement was the crowning glory of a quietly distinguished career that set off back in 1970 with the publication of his short story collection, Long Lankin. Before turning to fiction, Banville worked for several years for Aer Lingus, which allowed him the opportunity to travel widely, and his novels cover a similarly extensive panoply of language and subjects.
Dr Copernicus, his fictionalised account of the 15th Century Polish scientist won Scotland’s oldest literary prize, the James Tait Black Memorial Award, while The Newton Letter - adapted for Channel 4 - told of a mathematician writing a book about Sir Isaac. 1989’s The Book of Evidence took the form of a prison memoir written by an accused murderer. Widely regarded as a challenging, lyrical writer, Banville’s latest novel The Sea, about an elderly art historian who revisits painful past events following his wife’s death from cancer, defied the bookies to take the £50,000 Booker pot. Of his win, Banville said, with some small irony: ‘It is nice to see a work of art win the Booker prize.’ (Allan Radcliffe)
6 Aug, 11.30am, £7 (£5).