Canadian author Yann Martel won the Man Booker Prize for Literature Tuesday for his second novel, Life of Pi.

Martel was one of three Canadians nominated for the Booker, which is one of the world's most prestigious literary awards. He received a cheque for 50,000 ($121,000) in a ceremony at the British Museum in London.

"In Life of Pi, we have chosen an audacious book in which inventiveness explores belief," said jury chair Lisa Jardine. "It is, as the author says, 'a novel which will make you believe in God' or ask yourself why you don't."

British bookmakers routinely post odds and accept wagers on who will win the prize. This year, however, betting was suspended after a press release congratulating Martel as this year's winner was posted on the Booker Web site a week before the awards ceremony.

At the time, Booker officials said press releases had been prepared for each of the possible outcomes, and that the Martel announcement had been posted due to a technical error. They insisted that a leaked decision was impossible, as the judges would not meet to select the winner until the night of the awards ceremony.

Rohinton Mistry's Family Matters and Carol Shields' Unless were the other Canadian entries on the shortlist. The other three nominees were Dirt Music by Australia's Tim Winton, The Story of Lucy Gault by Ireland's William Trevor, and Fingersmith by Sarah Waters of Wales.

Shields was named a companion of the Order of Canada Tuesday.

The Booker Prize was established in 1968 to honour a work of fiction by a citizen of the British Commonwealth or the Republic of Ireland. Man Group PLC took over sponsorship this year and added "Man" to the prize's name.

The six finalists were chosen from a longer list of 20 nominees.

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