Second chances are rare in the cut-throat world of literary prizes. But on May 19, six novels will get a shot at awards glory 30 years after they were originally published. The Lost Man Booker Prize was dreamt up by the literary agent Peter Straus to right an injustice that arose when the Booker Prize changed its eligibility criteria in 1971. For its first two years, the prize was awarded to novels published in the year before the ceremony. This was changed in 1971, and ever since the nominees have been drawn from books published in the year of the ceremony. Bad luck for authors who published novels in 1970, which were never eligible for the prize - until now.
First up on the shortlist, which was announced on Thursday, is the renowned children's author Nina Bawden's The Birds on the Trees, about the relationship between a rebellious young man and his parents. Shirley Hazzard's The Bay of Noon tells a story about friendship in post-Second World War Italy. JG Farrell's Troubles was the first in his acclaimed Empire trilogy. Mary Renault's account of the early life of Alexander the Great, Fire from Heaven, is also on the list. Muriel Spark, twice nominated during her lifetime, could finally be awarded the prize for her psychological thriller The Driver's Seat. Finally, Patrick White, makes the list with his eighth novel The Vivisector. The (belated) decision is being left up to the public, who can vote via the official Man Booker website until April 23.