LONDON Oct 16 Six authors are contesting the
coveted Man Booker Prize for fiction awarded later on Tuesday,
although if bookmakers are to be believed it is a two-horse race
between 2009 winner Hilary Mantel and first-time nominee Will
The fact that Mantel and Self, both British authors, are the
most recognisable names on the shortlist this year may help
explain their more favourable betting odds for one of English
literature's best known prizes.
Mantel is nominated for "Bring Up the Bodies", the sequel to
her acclaimed "Wolf Hall", which picks up the action in King
Henry VIII's court in 1535 at the time of Anne Boleyn's
spectacular fall from grace and execution the following year.
Should the 60-year-old author win the 50,000 pound ($80,000)
prize announced at a glitzy dinner in the medieval grandeur of
London's Guildhall, she would become both the first woman and
first Briton to win the Booker twice.
South African-born J.M. Coetzee and Australian Peter Carey
are the only authors to have "done the double".
Self has made it to the final showdown with "Umbrella", a
modernist tale spanning a century and following Audrey Death,
woman who falls into a coma at the end of World War One only to
be awoken decades later when Dr. Zack Busner discovers a cure.
The writer has said he wanted to challenge what he called
"profoundly conservative narrative fiction" with a book that
critics have variously described as "sprawling", "draining" and
Up against the literary "establishment" are two first-time
"The Lighthouse", by short story writer Alison Moore,
follows Futh, a man still troubled by his mother abandoning him
as a child.
He heads to Germany to escape from the unhappiness of a
broken marriage and comes across Ester, the creepy landlady of a
hotel in the ominously named town of Hellhaus.
Indian writer and poet Jeet Thayil has been nominated for
"Narcopolis", set in Mumbai in the late 1970s and, more
specifically, Rashid's opium house whose languorous existence
abruptly changes with the arrival of the new drug heroin.
Malaysia's Tan Twan Eng made it to the Booker longlist with
his first novel "The Gift of Rain" in 2007 and is shortlisted in
2012 for "The Garden of Evening Mists", narrated by Yun Ling
Teoh who is the sole survivor of a Japanese prison camp.
"Swimming Home" by playwright and novelist Deborah Levy
explores the devastating effect depression can have on
apparently stable people, and has been described by the author
as a "page-turner about sorrow".
As well as the prize money, the winner of the Man Booker
Prize awarded to an author from the Commonwealth, Zimbabwe or
Ireland is virtually guaranteed a significant spike in sales.
Research by the Guardian newspaper showed that Mantel's Wolf
Hall, for example, sold 35,900 copies before the award was
announced and nearly 600,000 afterwards.
The year before, Aravind Adiga's "The White Tiger" had sold
just 5,703 copies before it won the Booker, rising nearly a
hundredfold to 551,061 afterwards.
(Reporting by Mike Collett-White, editing by Paul Casciato)