Seeing G, when John Berger donated half his Booker Prize money to the British Black Panthers
15 December 2022
Seeing G, a short documentary produced by the Booker Prize organisation, and British writer Jo Hamya, explores a fascinating chapter in literary award history. In 1972, British author and poet John Berger, was named the Booker winner for his novel G, also written in 1972.
During his acceptance speech though Berger caused — or is said to have caused — controversy, by pledging to give half of the £5,000 prize money to the London chapter of the British Black Panther Movement. But was the gesture truly controversial, or was that the way the media portrayed it?
‘I have to turn this prize against itself,’ he went on. ‘The half I give away, will change the half I keep.’ In a move made notorious by press, Berger donated half of his prize money to the London-based British Black Panther Movement. ‘I badly need more money for my project about the migrant workers of Europe,’ he explained, ‘[And] the Black Panther Movement badly needs more money for their newspaper and for their other activities… the sharing of the prize signifies that our aims are the same.’
Needless to say, there’s more to the story than meets the eye.