Booker International nominees announced

John Le Carre, Philip Roth, Rohinton Mistry and Philip Pullman are among the 13 authors shortlisted for the biennial Man Booker International Prize which will be awarded on May 18 in Sydney.

The prize is worth 60,000 pounds ($96,000) to the winner, and living authors whose works of fiction are either originally in English or generally available in English translation are  eligible.

It honors a writer's body of work as opposed to the annual Man Booker Prize for Fiction which is awarded for a single book. In 2011, Chinese writers feature in the shortlist for the first time in the form of Wang Anyi, who wrote "The Song of Everlasting Sorrow'' published in 1996, and Su Tong, whose novella "Wives and Concubines'' was the basis of the screenplay for the Oscar-nominated movie "Raise the Red Lantern.''

Three US authors appear - Roth, Marilynne Robinson and Anne Tyler - and three British - James Kelman, le Carre and Pullman.

Previous winners of the award were Canadian writer Alice Munro (2009), Nigeria's Chinua Achebe (2007) and Albanian Ismail Kadare, who scooped the inaugural prize in 2005.
 
Spy novelist Le Carre cold on Booker honour
 
British thriller writer John Le Carre asked Wednesday that his name be withdrawn from the shortlist for the prestigious Man Booker International Prize, leaving judges stumped about what to do.

The best-selling spy novelist was among 13 authors in consideration for the 60,000 pound (ê96,070) literary award, which for the first time included Chinese authors in Wang Anyi and Su Tong.

The chair of the judging panel, writer, academic and rare-book dealer Rick Gekoski said he received a statement from Le Carre only 45 minutes before the announcement of the shortlist in Sydney.

"It reads: 'I am enormously flattered to be named as a finalist. However I do not compete for literary prizes and have therefore asked for my name to be withdrawn'," he said.

Gekoski said the judging panel, which also includes publisher, writer and critic Carmen Callil and South African-born novelist Justin Cartwright, would make a decision later on how to proceed.

"Mr Le Carre, whose fiction we admire enormously, will continue of course on the list of the finalists which have already been distributed around the world," Gekoski said.

Authors or publishers cannot submit works for the Man Booker International Prize, which is distinct from the annual Man Booker Prize for Fiction in that it highlights an author's body of work rather than a single book.

Instead, the shortlist and ultimate winner are determined by the judges.

Le Carre is believed to be the first writer to ask to be withdrawn from consideration since the inaugural prize was awarded to Albanian writer Ismail Kadare in 2005.
His stand has left the judges perplexed.

"Technically I don't suppose he can withdraw the honour... but I don't think you could give him the prize if he didn't want it," Cartwright said.
However, Callil responded: "Well I do."

The judges said they read widely, particularly from China, before coming up with this year's shortlist, admitting that the giant communist country should have been on the list before.

Following is a full list of this year's finalists:

Wang Anyi (China)
Juan Goytisolo (Spain)
James Kelman (UK)
John le Carre (UK)
Amin Maalouf (Lebanon)
David Malouf (Australia)
Dacia Maraini (Italy)
Rohinton Mistry (India/Canada)
Philip Pullman (UK)
Marilynne Robinson (US)
Philip Roth (US)
Su Tong (China)
Anne Tyler (US)

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