Hilary Mantel and Will Self pull ahead in Man Booker Prize race(Read article summary)
The winner of the prestigious Man Booker literary prize will be announced in London on the evening of Oct. 16.
First-time nominee journalist Will Self and 2009 winner author Hilary Mantel are favored to win the coveted prize, one of English literatureâ€™s most respected. (Any doubts? Just check the myriad betting contests.)
Self is nominated for â€śUmbrella,â€ť â€śa modernist tale spanning a century and following Audrey Death, a 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,â€ť according to Reuters.
The book, which has no chapters and few paragraph breaks, has been alternately described as â€śsprawling,â€ť â€śdraining,â€ť and â€śmoving.â€ť
Mantel is nominated for â€śBring Up the Bodies,â€ť a sequel to â€śWolf Hall,â€ť which won the Booker Prize in 2009. â€śBring Up the Bodiesâ€ť picks up where â€śWolf Hallâ€ť left off, following the life of Thomas Cromwell in the backdrop of King Henry VIIIâ€™s court in 1535 as the king grows disenchanted with his second queen and Anne Boleyn prepares to stand trial.
Other nominees include Malaysian Tan Twan Eng is shortlisted for â€śThe Garden of Evening Mists,â€ť a tale about the sole survivor of a Japanese prison camp. Eng was nominated to the Booker longlist in 2007 with his debut novel, â€śThe Gift of Rain.â€ť
Playwright and novelist Deborah Levy delves into the harrowing world of depression in â€śSwimming Home,â€ť which she describes as a â€śpage-turner about sorrow.â€ť
Two first-time novelists are also in the running this year. Indian writer and poet Jeet Thayil is nominated for his debut novel â€śNarcopolis,â€ť set in a Mumbai opium house in the late 1970s. And short story writer Alison Moore is nominated for â€śThe Lighthouse,â€ť about a man haunted by his abandonment as a child who makes a life-changing trip to Germany to search for his past.
The prize always sparks plenty of debate â€“ and betting. Last yearâ€™s contest, of which Julian Barnes was picked for â€śThe Sense of an Ending,â€ť was accused of being â€śdumbed downâ€ť after the chair of the jury said Barnesâ€™s book was chosen for its â€śreadability.â€ť
This yearâ€™s list, reviewers say, is more adventurous. As is the betting. Bookmakers William Hill have made Self a 2/1 favorite with Mantelâ€™s odds at 9/4. Moore and Eng are both 4/1, Levy 9/1, and Thayil 10/1, according to the UKâ€™s Independent.
â€śThis has been an exhilarating year for fiction,â€ť judging panel chair Sir Peter Stothard told the Independent. â€śThe strongest I would say for more than a decade. We were considering... novels, not novelists, texts not reputations. We read and we reread. It was the power and depth of prose that settled most of the judgeâ€™s debates.â€ť
The final debate â€“ who wins the 50,000 pound ($82,000) prize and the prestige that goes with it â€“ is settled tonight.
Husna Haq is a Monitor correspondent.