The Man Booker Prize – once described as ‘posh bingo’ – remains the UK’s most prestigious new fiction award and wins thousands of readers and international recognition for the novel that gets the £50,000 1st prize. This year’s shortlist has just been announced by chair of judges, author and former MI5 director-general, Dame Stella Rimington. The contenders are:
Julian Barnes: ‘The Sense of an Ending’ (Jonathan Cape)
Carol Birch: ‘Jamrach’s Menagerie’ (Canongate Books)
Patrick deWitt: ‘The Sisters Brothers’ (Granta)
Esi Edugyan: ‘Half Blood Blues’ (Serpent’s Tail)
Stephen Kelman: ‘Pigeon English’ (Bloomsbury)
A.D. Miller: ‘Snowdrops’ (Atlantic)
The shortlist includes 2 first time novelists – Stephen Kelman and A.D. Miller – and 4 books from independent publishers. None of the 6 have won the prize before, though Julian Barnes has been shortlisted 3 times and is bookies’ favourite. Stella Rimington said it was hard to whittle down the longlist: ‘We were sorry to lose some great books. But, when push came to shove, we quickly agreed that these 6 very different titles were the best’. Time Out’s Books Editor, Chris Moss, commented that ‘the original longlist was very strong, and we raved in Time Out about Esi Edugyan, Julian Barnes and Patrick deWitt. These are my own favourites but I look forward to the final showdown next month, whatever the outcome’. The winner of the 2011 Man Booker Prize for Fiction will be announced on October 18 at London’s Guildhall and will be broadcast on the BBC. The winner receives £50,000 and each of the 6 shortlisted authors, including the winner, receive £2,500. Last year’s winner,Howard Jacobson, has sold more than 250,000 copies if his winning tome ‘The Finkler Question’ in the UK alone.