The Big Byng Theory

At a party to celebrate the award of this year's Man Booker Prize to Yann Martel for his novel The Life of Pi, the talk among the champagne-fuelled literati wasn't of near-winners, worthy losers or contentious judges. The chatter accompanying the toasts, the hugs and the kisses in the Union, a members-only club in London, was of the unprecedented success of Canongate Books, the small Edinburgh-based house that published Pi. For the first time, the prestigious annual fiction award for Commonwealth writers went to a book published outside the mainstream houses — and outside London. So the man behind Canongate, Jamie...

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