The long list of nominations for this year's prestigious Man Booker prize includes the names of three Irish writers; John Banville, for whom it is the second Booker nomination, Sebastian Barry and William Wall. The last time an Irish writer won the coveted literary award was in 1993, when Roddy Doyles Paddy Clarke Ha Ha Ha beat a number of talented writers, including Caryl Phillips and David Malouf, to obtain the prize. This year too the competition is fierce, with Salman Rushdie, Ian McEwan and JM Coetzee among the nominees.

John Banville looks like a sure bet for the short list with his book The Sea, a beautifully written account of a man who returns to the seaside town of his youth after the death of his wife. Dublin-born playwright and novelist, Sebastian Barry, winner of numerous awards for his theatre works, has been included in the Booker list for the first time with A Long, Long Way, set at the time of World War I. The title is a reference to the song sung by Irish servicemen of the time : Its A Long Way to Tipperary. The other Irish hopeful on the list is poet and novelist William Wall. This Is The Country, Walls fourth novel, is a bitterly ironic appraisal of modern Ireland from the point of view of a man who is trying to shake off his drug-taking past.

The Booker short list will be published in September, and the 50,000 prize awarded on 10 October at a ceremony in London