Cover Stories: Famine at Random House; honour for author of <i>Putin's Russia</i>; Granta

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The Independent Culture

Spare a thought for the literary division of Random House, whose long Man Booker famine continues after John Banville's victory on Monday. Once, its imprints such as Cape, Chatto and Secker hauled in the prize year after year, and in 2005 Cape began the Booker season with a truly winning team: Julian Barnes, Ian McEwan and Salman Rushdie. Yet, once again, it leaves the table empty-handed. As for Picador, now a slimmer fiction list in an imprint crowded with journalists' confessionals, it caps Alan Hollinghurst's success with Banville's. Fluky, or spooky?

* Congratulations to Anna Politkovskaya, special correspondent for Russian newspaper Novaya Gazeta, author of Putin's Russia (Harvill Secker), and fearless reporter on corruption, crime and Chechnya. This week in New York, she won the $50,000 Civil Courage Prize, which honours " steadfast resistance to injustice at great personal risk". Politkovskaya was once imprisoned in a pit without food or water for three days by Russian authorities and has been threatened with death by an officer whose war crimes she exposed.

* Granta, put up for sale by Rea Hederman, publisher of the New York Review of Books, now has a new owner: Sigrid Rausing, the British-based philanthropist from the Tetra Pak family who also underwrote Portobello Books, founded by former Flamingo publisher Philip Gwyn Jones. Rausing - who has given some £65m. to human-rights work - believes that Granta magazine is "unique and iconic" and that "both it and Granta Books have few equals". She plans to ensure that both have the " resources to flourish". Ian Jack and Gail Lynch will remain at the helm.

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