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Canadian wins Booker Prize for 'Life of Pi'

October 23, 2002|From Reuters

LONDON — Canadian writer Yann Martel won the Booker Prize on Tuesday, taking one of the world's most prestigious literary awards for "Life of Pi," his quirky fable about a boy's survival after a shipwreck.

The Montreal novelist was the hottest favorite in the 34-year history of the prize after the organizers mistakenly put out his name as the winner last week when doing a test run on the prize's Web site.

After judges decided Tuesday night, prize administrator Martyn Goff said, "The discussion was strong and good but never unpleasant. They felt very strongly about things and really discussed them. It was a close run thing with another book."

However, Goff refused to name the runner-up after the judges voted 4-1 for Martel after 70 minutes of thrashing out their choice. Asked if last week's embarrassing slip-up was a problem with the judges, Goff said, "No, it wasn't even mentioned."

That had been one of Martel's fears when literary gamblers made him the evens favorite. He said before the decision, "I hope it won't annoy the judges."

The 39-year-old Martel did not start making his living from writing until his late 20s. He now divides his time among writing, yoga and volunteer work at a care unit.

The winner, hailed by London literati at a glittering dinner in the British Museum, received $77,300 for his prize, which was sponsored this year by the hedge fund managers Man Group. Martel's work was picked from 130 novels from Britain, Ireland and the Commonwealth.

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