And the winner is...

The 2005 winner of The Man Booker Prize, the UK's most prestigious literary award, is John Banville for The Sea.

Banville, 60, is the first Irish author in more than 10 years to win the Booker (Roddy Doyle won in 1993 for Paddy Clark Ha Ha Ha). Banville came close in 1989 when his Book of Evidence was on the Booker shortlist.

The Sea, which will be released in the US in March of 2006, comes with a £50,000 purse.

LATE BREAKING NEWS: Knopf has just announced that they are fast-tracking publication of The Sea. It will be released in the US in November.