Booker Prize Shortlist Makes (Book) Sense

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Book Sense's hot streak continues. Remarkably, six Book Sense 76 picks constitute the entire shortlist for the U.K.'s Man Booker Prize for Fiction 2002. This news comes in the wake of the continuing streak of network morning shows featuring Book Sense titles.

The six shortlisted books for the award are: Life of Pi by Yann Martel (Harcourt); Family Matters by Rohinton Mistry (Knopf); Unless by Carol Shields (4th Estate/HarperCollins); The Story of Lucy Gault by William Trevor (Viking); Fingersmith by Sarah Waters (Riverhead); and Dirt Music by Tim Winton (Scribner). The nominations were announced Tuesday, September 24.

The Man Booker Prize is awarded to the best full-length novel written in English by a citizen of the British Commonwealth or Ireland. The winner -- who receives £50,000 -- will be announced on Tuesday, October 22, at an awards dinner in the Great Court of the British Museum, London. The ceremony will be televised live on BBC Two and BBC Four.

Professor Lisa Jardine, chair of judges, announced the list at a press conference in London. "We arrived at a wonderfully diverse shortlist with enormous enjoyment," she said. "The strong showing of Commonwealth writers shows the real importance of the Man Booker Prize's criteria for entry."

This marks the first time that author Yann Martel is shortlisted for the Booker. His book, Life of Pi, is about a boy stranded at sea with a hyena, an orangutan, a zebra, and a Bengal tiger. It was a 2002 July/August Book Sense 76 pick.

Indian-born Mistry was shortlisted once before, in 1991. His book, Family Matters, details the struggles of a father and his children in modern Bombay. Trevor's been nominated twice before, in 1976 and 1991. His latest novel, The Story of Lucy Gault, details the intense struggles of a family in rural, 1920s Ireland. Both Mistry's and Trevor's books were 2002 September/October Book Sense 76 picks.

Sarah Waters was nominated for her book Fingersmith, which details the life of an orphan in 1860s London. Winton, whose Dirt Music is about a woman stranded in an Australian fishing village and who is married to a fisherman she does not love, was shortlisted in the Booker in 1995. Both Waters' and Winton's novels were 2002 March/April Book Sense 76 picks.

Unless is Shield's 10th book, and it explores the relationships between mothers and daughters, and husbands and wives. Shields, who won the Pulitzer Prize in 1995 for The Stone Diaries (Viking), was shortlisted for the Booker Prize in 1993. Unless was a May/June Book Sense 76 pick.

The shortlist of six books was culled from a list of 20 entries (which had been chosen from a list of 130 submissions). Every year publishers are allowed to submit two books for the Man Booker Prize -- this year, 116 books were submitted for the prize, with 14 books coming from a call-in list and requests from the five Booker Prize judges.

Booker, plc, originally created the Booker Prize for Fiction in 1969 to reward merit, raise the stature of the author in the eyes of the public, and encourage an interest in contemporary quality fiction. Last April, it was announced that the Booker Prize Foundation had chosen the Man Group, plc, a provider of investment funds, as the new sponsor of the award, with the sponsorship to run for five years.

For more on the Man Booker Prize, go to