Sarah Waters makes the shortlist for the 2009 Man Booker Prize

Tuesday brought the announcement of the shortlist for the Man Booker Prize and lesbian author Sarah Waters is one of the six writers in contention for the prestigious award.

Waters was chosen for her novel The Little Stranger, an engaging ghost story set in postwar England.

Two of Waters’ previous books, Fingersmith and The Night Watch, made the shortlist in 2002 and 2006, respectively, but she has yet to win. This year’s winning author will receive £50,000, along with worldwide recognition and a huge boost in sales. Even though the odds-on favorite for the Booker is Hilary Mantel’s Wolf Hall, The Little Stranger has sold 50% more copies than any other title on the list and has topped many book critics’ lists of must-reads. Whether Booker judges will consider popularity remains to be seen.

When Stranger was released in May, AfterEllen.com contributing writer Heather Aimee O’Neill interviewed Waters, who wanted to assure lesbian readers that she has not abandoned them, just because her latest novel has no lesbian characters:

“I know for myself that we don’t have so many lesbian writers and readers, filmmakers, whatever, that we feel we can afford to lose them. I don’t in any way feel that lesbians have lost me. It’s just that this book came along and the story really grabbed me.

She repeated the sentiment when she talked to The Guardian at the Hay festival and went on to discuss everything from The Little Stranger to the kind of writer she is.

You can read an excerpt of The Little Stranger at Waters’ site and can hear author interviews and audio readings from all of the 2009 Booker Prize longlisted books at the Man Booker Prize site. The winner will be announced on Tuesday, October 6. I have my fingers crossed that this is Sarah Waters’ year.

Have you read The Little Stranger? Do you agree with Waters that it could be considered a queer book despite the absence of lesbian characters? How does it compare to her other novels?

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