Tuesday, September 8, 2009

2009 Booker Prize Shortlist

"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."  -2009 Booker Prize chair, James Naughtie

The Shortlist for the Man Booker Prize (essentially England's Pulitzer Prize) was announced this morning, dashing the hopes of Cheeta the chimpanzee, Colm Toibin, and William Trevor, while not surprising perennial favorites J.M. Coetzee, A.S. Byatt, and Sarah Waters. The list:
Hilary Mantel
No real surprises to this list, really, as I think a lot of folks see Coetzee headed toward an unprecedented third Booker win. (Although I read the galley for Summertime last week - the 3rd of Coetzee's fictionalized memoirs - and ultimately thought it pretentious and way too self-indulgent. But that's just me.) I don't think that there was any way such a strong longlist (with the likes of Byatt, Trevor, Toibin, Waters, & Mantel) would not produce an equally strong shortlist.
 
But there is a surprise here, actually. Not that Warwick's condones such behavior, but, in England there is a serious Booker-betting subculture and the first set of odds were announced immediately after the list itself. The surprise is that Hilary Mantel is the early front runner with 11/10 odds of winning. Shocking. Warwick's staff favorite, Sarah Waters is the second favorite at 7/2, with Coetzee at 4/1, Byatt at 13/2, and Mawer & Foulds at 11/1.  Will Coetzee come from behind and snare his third prize? Or will Byatt be the darkhorse?  The suspense! The drama! Place your bets!

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