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Updated: September 9, 2009 01:59 IST

Heavy-weight writers dominate Man Booker Prize shortlist

Hasan Suroor
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AWAITING GLORY: The six shortlisted novels for the Man Booker Prize 2009 are seen at the end of a news conference to announce the finalists in London on Tuesday. The six books are, from top to bottom, A.S. Byatt's 'The Children's Book', J.M. Coetzee's 'Summertime', Adam Foulds' 'The Quickening Maze', Hilary Mantel's 'Wolf Hall', Simon Mawer's 'The Glass Room', and Sarah Waters' 'The Little Stranger'. Photo: AP
AWAITING GLORY: The six shortlisted novels for the Man Booker Prize 2009 are seen at the end of a news conference to announce the finalists in London on Tuesday. The six books are, from top to bottom, A.S. Byatt's 'The Children's Book', J.M. Coetzee's 'Summertime', Adam Foulds' 'The Quickening Maze', Hilary Mantel's 'Wolf Hall', Simon Mawer's 'The Glass Room', and Sarah Waters' 'The Little Stranger'. Photo: AP

Heavy-weight writers dominate Man Booker Prize shortlist; There is not a single first-time writer in contention

The shortlist for this year’s £50,000 Man Booker Prize, announced here on Tuesday, is loaded with heavy-weight novelists with not a single first-time writer in contention.

All the three debut novelists who featured in the longlist have been dropped, the most conspicuous omission being James Lever whose Me Cheeta, The Autobiography was touted as a potential winner.

Also, for the first time in many years, there is no Asian contender with the judges deliberately avoiding “ticking boxes”, as one of them put it. Last year’s award was won by Aravind Adiga for The White Tiger, and in 2006 Kiran Desai got it for The Inheritance of Loss.

J.M. Coetzee and A.S. Byatt, both previous winners, are among the six contenders. Mr. Coetzee is in the running for his heavily autobiographical Summertime, and Ms. Byatt for The Children’s Book hailed as a “magical exploration of childhood.”

But the bookies’ favourite was reported to be Hilary Mantel’s Wolf Hall, a fictional reconstruction of the life of Henry VIII’s adviser Thomas Cromwell.

Others on the shortlist include Adam Foulds for The Quickening Maze, Simon Mawer ( The Glass Room) and Sarah Waters (The Little Stranger).

“Strong list”

Judges hailed it as a “strong” list and said it would not be easy to pick a winner.

“We’re thrilled to be able to announce such a strong shortlist, so enticing that it will certainly give us a headache when we come to select the winner. The choice will be a difficult one. There is thundering narrative, great inventiveness, poetry and sharp human insight in abundance,” said James Naughtie, chair of the judges.

The award will be announced at a ceremony in London next month.

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