Notes on a Scandal by Zok Heller shortlisted for the Man Booker prize for fiction 2003

Published in Viking hardback on 5th June 2003 at 14.99

Zoë Heller's Notes on a Scandal is one of the six books shortlisted for this year's Booker Prize. The overall winner will be announced at a televised ceremony on the 14th October. The odds on Zoë winning are currently at 14 - 1 making her joint second favourite behind Margaret Atwood's Oryx and Crake.  The winner receives £50,000 with a guaranteed increase in sales and recognition worldwide. Each of the six shortlisted authors, including the winner, receives £2,500 and a designer bound edition of their own book.

The Book

Schoolteacher Barbara Covett leads a solitary existence. When Sheba Hart joins St. George's as the new art teacher, Barbara senses the possibility of a new friendship. It begins with lunches and continues with regular invitations to meals with Sheba's seemingly close-knit family. But as Barbara and Sheba's relationship develops, another does as well: Sheba has begun a sexual affair with an underage male pupil. When it comes to light and Sheba falls prey to the inevitable media circus, Barbara decides to write an account in her friend's defence - an account that reveals not only Sheba's secrets but her own.

The Reviews

"...a superbly gripping book that suggests that Heller could well become one of those most arresting novelists of her generation." The Telegraph

"Truly tragicomic...this little psychological masterpiece continues to disturb long after its last page." The Guardian

"...probably the most gripping book I have read so far this year." The Independent on Sunday

"A sympathetic portrayal of the isolation at the heart of human consciousness, Notes on a Scandal finds an elegant balance between dark comedy and tragedy, and concludes on a satisfyingly sinister note." The Observer

"Again and again, a well-chosen word renders an ordinary sentence exceptional...This is a beautifully crafted piece, subtly characterised, with verbal felicities on every page." The Times

The Author

Zoë Heller's first novel, Everything You Know, was published by Viking in 1999. Zoe Heller's work as a feature writer, critic, and columnist has appeared in the Daily Telegraph, the New Republic, Vogue, the New Yorker, Vanity Fair and the London Review of Books. She lives in New York and is available for interview.

The Prize

Man Booker 2003 Shortlist

Author - Title - Publisher

Monica Ali - Brick Lane - Doubleday
Margaret Atwood - Oryx and Crake - Bloomsbury
Damon Galgut - The Good Doctor - Atlantic Books
Zoë Heller - Notes on a Scandal - Viking Penguin
Clare Morrall - Astonishing Splashes Of Colour - Tindal Street Press
DBC Pierre - Vernon God Little - Faber & Faber

The Judges

Professor John Carey commented, 'This is giant killers' year in the Man Booker. Three first novels and only one big name left.' Chaired by Professor John Carey - writer, academic and broadcaster - 2003's lively judging panel encompasses the very best of literary and academic knowledge and comprises: D.J. Taylor, novelist, biographer and literary critic; Rebecca Stephens, MBE, record-breaking mountaineer and journalist; Francine Stock, novelist, broadcaster and presenter; and A.C. Grayling, writer, academic and critic.

This year the Man Booker Prize for Fiction awards ceremony will be held in the Great Hall of the British Museum. The event, which will be televised live on BBC2 and BBC4, takes place on Tuesday, 14 October.

 

Further information

Amelia Fairney, Publicity Director on Tel: 020 7010 3247 / amelia.fairney@penguin.co.uk