AS usual, the Booker Prize jury is guilty of sins of commission as well as sins of omission. Commission because they have included in their shortlist books that were yawningly obvious to everyone; omission because they did not include certain favourites. The current top tip for the final honours is Irish author Roddy Doyle with Paddy Clarke Ha Ha Ha . But he will not be banking on it - he was shortlisted once before in 1991. A wild card is Tibor Fischer, born in Stockport, England of Hungarian parents, both professional basketball players. Under the Frog is his first novel and is set in post-war Hungary in the years leading up to the revolution of October 1956. The book traces the adventures of two young men, part of a travelling basketball team who not only survive the chaos of Communism but are followed as they avoid working and dream of eventual escape. The title is short for a Hungarian expression ''under the frog's arse down a coal mine'' which means living at the lowest point of existence. He has already won the Betty Trask Award for Under the Frog and this year was chosen as one of Granta's 20 Best of Young British Novelists. Similarly unexpected was the choice of Canadian-born Michael Ignatieff's Scar Tissue . Mr Ignatieff, television presenter and journalist, has four previous works under his belt. He has here produced the memories of a son trying to cope with a mother who goes through phases of neurological disease, including loss of memory and eventually, of identity itself. Far from being a chronicle of decline, the book is an examination of the son's own introspection and attempt to come to terms with a life stripped of all the moral and assumed values he had taken for granted. Then comes the well-established and widely-acclaimed Australian David Malouf with his intriguing Remembering Babylon . Mr Malouf has not only written a trio of previous novels, but he is a poet and opera librettist. Remembering Babylon is the story of a 13-year-old boy, Gemmy Fairley, who was cast ashore in the mid-1840s in the far north of Australia and adopted by aborigines. By the time European settlers reach that Queensland area he is in his mid-20s. He is adopted by them and this second adoption proves as strange as the first. The West Indies island of St Kitts is the origin of the penultimate author, Caryl Phillips, and his latest novel Crossing the River . This is the voice of black conscience, trying to come to terms with an ancestry of slavery. The only female author selected is Carol Shields with The Stone Diaries. Although born in the United States, she has lived and brought up her family in Canada since the 50s. The central character of this aptly-named book has a quarry man who is obsessed with limestone for a father, and most other protagonists are concerned with rocks, one way or another. Ms Shields' central figure moves with immense detail around the rocks of her own life to find a new one. A novel designed as an autobiography it comes with photographs of the characters. A much-applauded tale. The most surprising omission is Vikram Seth's A Suitable Boy. This was widely fancied for the shortlist, if not for the prize itself. The main thing against it was its size: 1,300 pages. The chairman of this year's panel, Lord Gowrie declared: ''In the end what we all went for was passion. In diverse ways, all these novels share it.'' Perhaps in Vikram Seth's case, they could not see the passion for the pages.