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The Independent Online
Mick Jackson, in contention for next week's Booker Prize with The Underground Man, was not, it seems, surprised by his inclusion on that most talked- of lists. Two days before it was announced, he had a dream that his novel would be shortlisted. The book is based on the life of the fifth Duke of Portland, one of Britain's great eccentrics, who built a network of tunnels under his Nottinghamshire home. How appropriate, then, that when he heard the shortlist announced on the radio, Jackson had just emerged on to the M25 from the Dartford Tunnel. The portents are surely good.

Meanwhile, Seamus Deane, Professor of Irish Studies at Notre Dame University, Indiana, has done the double. His novel Reading in the Dark, shortlisted for 1996 Booker, has won both the Irish Literature Prize and the International Fiction Prize in the Irish Times Literature Prizes. Aside from being IRpounds 12,500 richer, Deane is the first author in the competition's nine-year history to win both honours simultaneously. It is also the first time the International award has gone to an Irish author. Previous winners include A S Byatt whose novel Possession also won the Booker. She used the prize money to buy new curtains, but there's no news yet on Deane's intentions.