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'Lost Booker Prize' to be awarded for 1970 novel

LONDON — More than three decades after Iris Murdoch won her Booker prize, she has a chance to win the Lost Man Booker Prize.

The late author, who died in 1999, is up against 21 other writers who published novels in English in 1970 — which are still in print and available today — but were never considered for the prestigious prize.

The reason? The Booker was originally awarded for any book published in the previous year. But in 1971, it became a prize for the best novel published that year.

That meant that a raft of books published in 1970 were left out in the cold, and the "Lost Man Booker Prize" is an attempt to remedy the oversight.

"'Our longlist demonstrates that 1970 was a remarkable year for fiction written in English," said Ion Trewin, the prizes' literary director. "Recognition for these novels and the eventual winner is long overdue.

Murdoch's "A Fairly Honourable Defeat" is up against 21 other works, including "The Fire Dwellers" by Margaret Laurence, Len Deighton's "Bomber," "A Guilty Thing Surprised," by Ruth Rendell, and "A Clubbable Woman," by Reginald Hill.

Murdoch won her Booker in 1978 for "The Sea, The Sea."

A shortlist for the prize will be announced in March. The eventual winner is to be decided by a public vote on the Man Booker Prize Web site and will be announced in May.

The Lost Man Booker Prize is the third special prize to be created by the organization. To mark the prize's 25th anniversary, a "Booker of Bookers" was created and in 2008, the 40th anniversary, there was a "Best of the Booker" award. Salman Rushdie won both prizes with his novel, "Midnight's Children."

The prize was first handed out in 1969, and is open to writers from Britain, Ireland and the Commonwealth. It was long known simply as the Booker prize, but was renamed when Man Group PLC, a financial services conglomerate, began sponsoring it several years ago.