Booker shortlist signals 'turning of literary tide' - News - Books - The Independent

Booker shortlist signals 'turning of literary tide'

Nearly all the favourites to win this year's £50,000 Man Booker Prize have fallen at the penultimate fence after the judges chose one of the youngest and most eclectic shortlists in years.

In a move that has saved bookmakers a fortune, writers including two-time Booker winner Peter Carey, the highly-acclaimed Andrew O'Hagan and David Mitchell, who was the hottest favourite in the entire history of the prize the last time he was in the running, were all excluded from the final list of six.

Sarah Waters with The Night Watch remains the biggest name in contention and was immediately installed as favourite to take the prestigious prize at the ceremony on 10 October. She has been shortlisted before, for Fingersmith in 2002.

Hermione Lee, the chair of a judging panel which includes Fiona Shaw, the actress, and Anthony Quinn, a critic with The Independent, said Carey, O'Hagan and Mitchell would all survive and thrive without the Booker. "I feel they're such talented and exceptional writers that they don't need us," she said.

Instead, Ms Lee, who was a judge when Salman Rushdie was catapulted to fame with the victory of Midnight's Children in 1981, presented a list which will take many readers by surprise.

The shortlist includes one debut novelist, Hisham Matar with In the Country of Men, Kate Grenville, a former Orange Prize-winner, and Kiran Desai, who is the daughter of the author Anita Desai , herself a three-times Booker nominee.

Canongate, the independent Scottish publisher which triumphed in 2002 with The Life of Pi by Yann Martel, has two titles on the list, Grenville's The Secret River and Carry Me Down by M.J.Hyland.

The final contender is Mother's Milk by Edward St Aubyn, a 46-year-old author who turned to writing after surviving abuse by his father and heroin addiction.

Several subjects recurred, including the world as viewed through the eyes of children, life in exile and anti-Americanism.

Ms Lee said: "We've come across a lot of anti-Americanism of various kinds in the writing. [Mother's Milk] was probably the most outrageous satire of American culture you can imagine."

The selection surprised commentators. John Sutherland, last year's chairman and author of How to Read a Novel, said it was a "bizarre" list that might signal a changing of the literary guard. "If you compare it with last year, the average age is five or 10 years younger. What we may be seeing is a turning of the tide, the older generation giving way to the new."

Kate Gunning of Foyles said the contest would be one of the most fascinating in years. "It's a huge bonus to have less well known authors on the shortlist."

Rodney Troubridge of Waterstone's said they were surprised and disappointed at the omission of David Mitchell's Black Swan Green but would be delighted if this was to be Sarah Waters' year instead. "We are particularly excited to see Hisham Matar on the list for his brilliant first novel - a child's eye view of a country without liberty."

Matar himself seemed astonished. "I'm almost numb with joy. It's quite marvellous. Writing happens in silence. When something happens like this, it's delightful. It's almost a bodily pleasure."

The contenders

'The Inheritance of Loss' by Kiran Desai (Hamish Hamilton)

The life of an embittered old judge in the north-eastern Himalayas is turned upside down by the arrival of his orphaned grand-daughter Sai. Their stories are woven together with the parallel narrative of the son of the judge's cook, who lives in the shadowy world of illegal immigrants in New York.

Desai, 35, was born in India, the daughter of the author Anita Desai who has been shortlisted for the Booker Prize three times. Educated in India, England and the United States, she is a student on Columbia University's creative writing course.

William Hill odds 7/1

Ladbrokes odds 4/1

'The Secret River' by Kate Grenville (Canongate)

Thames waterman William Thornhill has a tough, but bearable, life until he makes a mistake for which he is made to pay dearly. He is sentenced to be transported to the colony of New South Wales, Australia, where he sets up home on 100 acres of land but is shocked to find aboriginal people are already living on part of it.

Kate Grenville, 55, was born in Sydney, Australia, and has worked as a film editor, journalist, typist and teacher. Her novels include The Idea of Perfection, which won the 2001 Orange Prize for fiction.

William Hill odds 4/1

Ladbrokes odds 11/2

Carry Me Down by MJ Hyland (Canongate)

John Egan, a young boy, has the unusual talent of knowing when people are lying. He hopes that one day this gift will bring him fame, but in the meantime is forced to deal with the destructive undercurrents of his family. However, his obsession with uncovering the truth becomes a violent and frightening fixation.

MJ Hyland was born in London to Irish parents, spent her early childhood in Dublin before the family moved to Australia. After training and working as a lawyer, her first novel was published in 2004. She lives and works in Manchester.

William Hill odds 5/1

Ladbrokes odds 9/1

'In the Country of Men' by Hisham Matar (Viking)

A young boy growing up in the Libyan capital, Tripoli, in 1979 witnesses a terrifying and bewildering world of secrets and lies. A mysterious man sits outside his house all day and asks questions, while his father has apparently disappeared.

This is the first novel by Hisham Matar, 35, who was born in New York, but spent his childhood in Libya and Egypt before moving to Britain in 1986 where he became an apprentice architect. Matar is the son of a Libyan dissident who has not been heard of since he was imprisoned in Tripoli in 1990.

William Hill odds 6/1

Ladbrokes odds 4/1

'Mother's Milk' by Edward St Aubyn (Picador)

The funny, if degenerate, exploits of Patrick Melrose, a man struggling to measure up to adulthood, and his aristocratic family. A follow-up to St Aubyn's previous trilogy about the once-illustrious Melrose family, although can be read alone.

St Aubyn was born in 1960 in a part of Cornwall where his family had lived since the Norman Conquest. He was raped by his father as a child and further abused, became a heroin addict at 16 and continued the habit through Oxford University. At 28 he considered suicide but turned to therapy instead, talked through his life and used the material to become a writer.

William Hill odds 3/1

Ladbrokes odds 7/1

'The Night Watch' by Sarah Waters (Virago)

The story of four Londoners - three women and a young man - and their interweaving stories during the Second World War. Kate is an ambulance driver, while Helen harbours a painful secret and Viv, a glamour girl, is stubbornly loyal to her brother Duncan, an apparent innocent.

Sarah Waters, 40, was born in Pembrokeshire and went to Cambridge University. Her first book, Tipping the Velvet, the Victorian lesbian novel, was adapted into a three-part television serial, its successor, Fingersmith, was shortlisted for the Booker and Orange prizes. It was also serialised on TV. Waters lives in London.

William Hill odds 2/1 Favourite

Ladbrokes odds 6/4 Favourite

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Some might argue that a fleeting moment in the actor’s scintillating, silver-tongued company is worth every penny.

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Colin Firth stars as master magician Stanley Crawford in Woody Allen's 'Magic in the Moonlight'

film
Arts and Entertainment
U2 have released Songs of Innocence in partnership with Apple

musicBand have offered new record for free on iTunes
Arts and Entertainment
Brad Pitt stars in David Ayer's World War II drama Fury

film
Arts and Entertainment
Top hat: Pharrell Williams

music
Arts and Entertainment
Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum star as undercover cops in 22 Jump Street

film
Arts and Entertainment
David Bowie is back with fresh music after last year's hit album The Next Day

music
Arts and Entertainment
Keith Richards is publishing 'Gus and Me: The Story of My Granddad and My First Guitar', a children's book about his introduction to music

music
Arts and Entertainment
Calvin Harris has generated £4m in royalties from the music platform

music
Arts and Entertainment
Jenna Coleman stars as the Time Lord's companion Clara in Doctor Who

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Time and time again: the popular daytime quiz has been a fixture on Channel 4 since 1982

TV
Arts and Entertainment

To mark Tolstoy's 186th birthday

books
Arts and Entertainment
Rachel McAdams is reportedly competing with Mad Men's Elisabeth Moss for a major role in True Detective

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Sam Smith returned to the top spot with his album 'In The Lonely Hour'

music
Arts and Entertainment
Steve Backshall is set to dance with Ola Jordan on Strictly Come Dancing. 'I have a friend who's a dancer and she said to me 'You want Ola because she's a fantastic dancer and she can make anyone look good' meaning 'even you'!' he said.

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Sting and Paul Simon on stage together at Carnegie Hall in New York

music
Arts and Entertainment
music
Arts and Entertainment
The Strictly Come Dancing 2014 contestants and their professional dance partners open the twelfth run of the celebrity ballroom contest

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Robin teaches Clara to shoot an arrow
doctor who
Arts and Entertainment
Queen Christina left the judges baffled with her audition
X Factor
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

    A shot in the dark

    Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
    His life, the universe and everything

    His life, the universe and everything

    New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
    Save us from small screen superheroes

    Save us from small screen superheroes

    Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
    Reach for the skies

    Reach for the skies

    From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
    These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

    12 best hotel spas in the UK

    Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
    These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

    Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

    Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
    Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

    Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

    Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
    How to make a Lego masterpiece

    How to make a Lego masterpiece

    Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
    Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

    Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

    Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
    Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

    Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

    His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
    'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

    'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

    Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
    Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

    Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

    The Imitation Game, film review
    England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

    England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

    Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
    Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

    Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

    Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
    ‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

    ‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

    Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week