Canadian writers dominate the short list for the 2002 Man Booker prize for fiction. Three out of the six finalists live in Canada and another is from Australia. Prof. Lisa Jardine, the chair of judges, commented on the strong showing of Commonwealth writers and described the list as "wonderfully diverse."
William Trevor, from Ireland, is favored to take the £50,000 prize on October 22. His novel The Story of Lucy Gault (Viking), his third on the short list, is set against a background of political unrest in rural Ireland in the 1920s. The judges called for Trevor's novel, as his publishers at Viking had not submitted the work for the prize. Australian Tim Winton, with Dirt Music (Picador), a rock 'n' roll account of an incestuous Australian west coast fishing village, is close behind Trevor. Carol Shields is third favorite for Unless (4th Estate) and could add the Booker to the Pulitzer and Orange prizes she has already won. She has also been a Booker contender before.
Sarah Waters, a British university lecturer, debuts on the list with Fingersmith (Virago). Yann Martel's Life of Pi (Canongate) is the other first-timer on the list. Rohinton Mistry has been Booker shortlisted for each of his previous two novels: his Family Matters (Faber & Faber) is the current outsider. The surprise omission is Zadie Smith's second novel, The Autograph Man, which was rushed to the judges in proof form.
The judges lambasted publishers for submitting "portentous and pretentious" titles, many of which appeared to have been written with an eye on the prize. Jardine said she hoped that under the guardianship of the Man Group, the prize would enter a new era encompassing fiction that was fun and popular.