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Novelist Mantel favorite to repeat Man Booker Prize feat

  • FILE - The winner of the 2009 Booker Prize for fiction Hilary Mantel with her book "Wolf Hall" poses for a photograph following an interview in London. (AP Photo/Alastair Grant)

LONDON: Hilary Mantel, who won the coveted Man Booker Prize for Fiction in 2009 with historical novel “Wolf Hall,” is favored to repeat the feat after her sequel “Bring up the Bodies” was shortlisted again Tuesday.

The other five nominees are Will Self (“Umbrella”), Deborah Levy (“Swimming Home”), Malaysia’s Tan Twan Eng (“The Garden of Evening Mists”) and first-time novelists Alison Moore (“The Lighthouse”) and Indian author Jeet Thayil (“Narcopolis”).

“We loved the shock of language shown in so many different ways and were exhilarated by the vigor and vividly defined values in the six books that we chose,” said Peter Stothard, chair of the judges and editor of the Times Literary Supplement.

The overall winner will be announced at a ceremony at London’s Guildhall on Oct. 16 and receive a cheque for 50,000 pounds ($80,000) plus a spike in sales that usually accompanies a major literary award.

Last year’s winner, “The Sense of An Ending” by Julian Barnes, has sold more than 300,000 print copies in the United Kingdom alone.

Of the six shortlisted authors, two have previously been linked to the prize. Mantel won in 2009 with the first instalment of her Thomas Cromwell trilogy, and was longlisted in 2005 for “Beyond Black.”

Eng was longlisted for the prize in 2007 with his debut novel, “The Gift of Rain.”

The four other novelists including Self, who was described by organizers as a “radical of contemporary literature,” appeared on the list for the first time.

The shortlist features three major publishers – Faber & Faber, Fourth Estate and Bloomsbury – and three smaller regional publishers – Myrmidon Books, Salt and And Other Stories.

Levy’s novel “Swimming Home” is co-published by And Other Stories and Faber & Faber.

Ladbrokes bookmakers made Mantel the early favorite for the 2012 Man Booker Prize with odds of 9/4, followed by Self on 11/4.

“All of the momentum is with Mantel and punters are confident in her bid for the first ever repeat win,” said Ladbrokes spokeswoman Jessica Bridge. “She cost us dearly in 2009 with Wolf Hall and this year looks set to be no different.”

Jonathan Ruppin, web editor at Foyles bookshops, praised the judges’ selection. “One can never discount the consistently brilliant Hilary Mantel and Will Self has surpassed himself with ‘Umbrella,’” Ruppin wrote, “but I’m tipping Alison Moore’s moody and exquisite ‘The Lighthouse,’ to pull off a triumph for the dynamic world of indie publishing.”

 
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on September 12, 2012, on page 16.
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