Spy chief to head Booker Prize panel in 2011

Thu Nov 25, 2010 2:01pm EST
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LONDON (Reuters Life!) - Former MI5 chief Stella Rimington will lead the Man Booker fiction prize judging panel that also includes journalist Matthew d'Ancona, author Susan Hill, politician Chris Mullin and Daily Telegraph head of books Gaby Wood, organizers said on Thursday.

Rimington was appointed director general of MI5 in 1992, and was the first women to lead the organization charged with thwarting domestic security threats.

She has also tried her hand at fiction, writing a series of spy thrillers featuring heroine Liz Carlyle, an MI5 officer who comes up against al Qaeda bombers, feuding Russian exiles and bids to botch an Israeli-Syrian peace summit.

The longlist for the fiction award, one of the most coveted in the English language, will be announced in late July next year with the shortlist following in early September. The awards ceremony is scheduled for Oct 18.

The 2010 prize, which honors the best novel of the year written by a citizen of the Commonwealth or Ireland, was won by British novelist Howard Jacobson for his comic novel "The Finkler Question."

(Reporting by Adam Jourdan, editing by Mike Collett-White and Paul Casciato)

<p>Former MI5 Director-General Stella Rimington holds a copy of her autobiography "Open Secret" at a Central London bookstore September 18, 2001. REUTERS/Stringer</p>