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In an upset, 2010 Man Booker Prize goes to 'The Finkler Question'

October 12, 2010 |  1:56 pm

Booker_2010_shortlist

Howard Jacobson, third from left, above, won the 2010 Man Booker Prize on Tuesday, it was announced in a ceremony in London. The Man Booker comes with a hefty $79,000 award and all but guarantees bestseller status in the United Kingdom.

The award committee publicly announces a long list and then short list in advance of the award. On Sunday, the six short-listed authors gathered with their novels for a photo. From left: Damon Gaulgut, "In a Strange Room"; Andrea Levy, "The Long Song"; Howard Jacobson, "The Finkler Question"; Peter Carey, "Parrot and Olivier in America"; Emma Donoghue, "Room"; Tom McCarthy, "C".

"I am speechless," Jacbson said as he took the stage. "Fortunately, I prepared one earlier. In 1983..." he joked. Jacobson has twice been longlisted for the Man Booker -- in 2002 and 2006 -- but has never won or made the shortlist before.

Last year, the Man Booker carried weight across the Atlantic. The prize's winner, "Wolf Hall" by Hilary Mantel, might not seem like the kind of book that would find fans outside of the U.K. -- it's a novelized telling of the story of Thomas Cromwell, a minister who served under King Henry VIII in the early 1500s -- but it went on to both critical and commercial success in America. After getting the Man Booker prize, "Wolf Hall" went on to win the National Book Critics Circle Award for fiction and become a NY Times bestseller.

Jacobson's win came as a surprise. In the days leading up to the announcement, McCarthy was considered the clear front-runner; British wagering house Ladbrokes closed bets on the prize last week after receiving about $24,000 in bets on McCarthy in a single day, more than they'd received for all the authors combined since July.

"The Finkler Question" was published in the U.S. this week by Bloomsbury USA.

-- Carolyn Kellogg

Photo: The short-listed Man Booker Prize authors with their books Sunday. Credit: Carl Court/AFP/Getty Images

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