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Kiran Desai shortlisted for Booker prize

The short-listed writers are from disparate backgrounds: India, Australia, Britain, a Libyan in exile and an Anglo-Irish novelist

india Updated: Sep 18, 2006 15:37 IST

Kiran Desai is among the six novelists short-listed for this year's Man Booker prize worth 50,000 pounds for her family drama set in the 1930s at the foot of Mount Kanchenjunga which centres around a retired judge.

Kiran Desai was short-listed for her second novel, The Inheritance of Loss, published by Hamish Hamilton.

The novel is based on the life of an elderly judge who wants nothing more than to retire in peace. But the arrival of his orphaned granddaughter and the son of his cook trying to stay one step ahead of the US immigration services make this far from easy.

Kiran Desai is the daughter of well-known Indian novelist Anita Desai, who was short-listed for the prize on three occasions.

The other five contenders for the prestigious award are Welsh novelist Sarah Waters, Kate Grenville, M.J. Hyland, Hisham Matar and Edward St Aubyn.

The winner will be announced on October 10.

Unexpectedly dropped from the 19-strong long list announced last month was Australia's Peter Carey, hoping for a record third win of the world's most famous literary award. Along with him went the veteran South African Nadine Gordimer, who won 32 years ago, another past winner Barry Unsworth, and a trio of widely-backed premier division British writers David Mitchell, Andrew O'Hagan and Howard Jacobson.

But those making it to the list, for the ceremony next month include Sarah Waters, the best-known of the finalists because of two previous Victorian lesbian bodice-rippers, a Libyan-born first-time author whose father was last heard of languishing in one of Colonel Gaddafi's prisons and a young English aristocrat raped by his father at the age of five who got through Oxford despite being a heroin addict.

Responding to the surprising omissions from the short-list, Ion Trewin, administrator of the prize, said "It seems to be a seismic moment in English literature with the old guard perhaps passing on the baton to new talent."

The short-listed writers are from disparate backgrounds; one from India, one from Australia, Matar the exiled Libyan who now has a British passport, one Anglo-Irish novelist and two Britons. Four of the six are women.

The short-list:

The Night Watch by Sarah Waters

Mother's Milk by Edward St Aubyn

In The Country of Men by Hisham Matar

Carry Me Down by M J Hyland

The Secret River by Kate Grenville

The Inheritance of Loss by Kiran Desai

First Published: Sep 18, 2006 15:16 IST