A HISTORICAL novel about Henry VIII’s adviser, Thomas Cromwell, leads the shortlist for this year’s Man Booker Prize.
Wolf Hall, by Hilary Mantel, which tells the story of Cromwell’s rise to prominence in the Tudor court, is the bookmakers’ favourite to win the prestigious award.
South African author JM Coetzee also made the shortlist with his fictionalised memoir Summertime. If he won, it would bean unprecedented third Booker.
Sarah Waters will be hoping to make it third time lucky with her novel The Little Stranger – she has been shortlisted twice before without winning.
There was no place on the shortlist for Irish author Colm Tóibín, who has also twice made the shortlist without success.
The Man Booker Prize is worth £50,000 (€56,944) to the winner, but inevitably leads to a huge jump in sales, as well as international acclaim.
Completing the shortlist are Simon Mawer’s The Glass Room, Adam Foulds’ The Quickening Maze and AS Byatt’s The Children’s Book.
A total of 132 books were considered for this year’s long list of 13, announced on July 28, and after three hours of intense discussion, the panel of judges whittled the list down to the six titles named yesterday.
James Naughtie, the chair of judges, said the six shortlisted authors were at the peak of their powers.
“We feel it’s a really strong shortlist,” he said.
“They are all very, very good books that entranced us in different ways.”
Coetzee won the Booker in 1999 with Disgrace and in 1983 with Life & Times of Michael K, and Summertime completes the trilogy of fictionalised memoir begun with Boyhood and Youth.
Naughtie defended the memoir’s inclusion in the list, saying the book used “all the tools of fiction” to tell its story and was certainly not an autobiography in the conventional sense.
The book recounts a young English biographer’s attempt to write the life story of a dead South African author, John Coetzee, through interviews with people who knew him.
The winner will be announced on October 6.
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