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
Arts and Entertainment
Clara takes the lead in 'Flatline' while the Doctor remains in the Tardis
tvReview: The 'Impossible Girl' earns some companion stripes... but she’s still annoying in 'Dr Who, Flatline'
Arts and Entertainment
Joy Division photographed around Waterloo Road, Stockport, near Strawberry Studios. The band are Bernard Sumner (guitar and keyboards), Stephen Morris (drums and percussion), Ian Curtis (vocals and occasional guitar), Peter Hook (bass guitar and backing vocals).
books
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Sean Harris in 'The Goob' film photocall, at the Venice International Film Festival 2014
filmThe Bafta-winner talks Hollywood, being branded a psycho, and how Streisand is his true inspiration
Arts and Entertainment
X Factor contestant Fleur East
tvReview: Some lacklustre performances - but the usual frontrunners continue to excel
Arts and Entertainment
Richard Tuttle's installation in the Turbine Hall at the Tate Modern
artAs two major London galleries put textiles in the spotlight, the poor relation of the creative world is getting recognition it deserves
Arts and Entertainment
Hunger Games actress Jena Malone has been rumoured to be playing a female Robin in Batman v Superman
film
Arts and Entertainment
On top of the world: Actress Cate Blanchett and author Richard Flanagan
artsRichard Flanagan's Man Booker win has put paid to the myth that antipodean artists lack culture
Arts and Entertainment
The Everyman, revamped by Haworth Tompkins
architectureIt beats strong shortlist that included the Shard, the Library of Birmingham, and the London Aquatics Centre
Arts and Entertainment
Justice is served: Robert Downey Jr, Vincent D’Onofrio, Jeremy Strong and Robert Duvall in ‘The Judge’

Film

Arts and Entertainment
Clive Owen (centre) in 'The Knick'

TV

Arts and Entertainment
J.K. Simmons , left, and Miles Teller in a scene from

Film

Arts and Entertainment
Team Tenacity pitch their fetching solar powered, mobile phone charging, heated, flashy jacket
tvReview: No one was safe as Lord Sugar shook things up
News
Owen said he finds films boring but Tom Hanks managed to hold his attention in Forrest Gump
arts
Arts and Entertainment
Bono and Apple CEO Tim Cook announced U2's surprise new album at the iPhone 6 launch
Music Album is set to enter UK top 40 at lowest chart position in 30 years
Arts and Entertainment
The Michael McIntyre Chat Show airs its first episode on Monday 10 March 2014
Comedy
Arts and Entertainment

Review

These heroes in a half shell should have been left in hibernation
Arts and Entertainment
Richard Flanagan with his novel, The Narrow Road to the Deep North
books'The Narrow Road to the Deep North' sees the writer become the third Australian to win the accolade
Arts and Entertainment
New diva of drama: Kristin Scott Thomas as Electra
theatre
Arts and Entertainment
TV
Arts and Entertainment
Daenerys Targaryen, played by Emilia Clarke, faces new problems

Sek, k'athjilari! (That’s “yes, definitely” to non-native speakers).

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Polly Morgan

art
Arts and Entertainment
The kid: (from left) Oona, Geraldine, Charlie and Eugene Chaplin

film
Latest stories from i100
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.

    Two super-sized ships have cruised into British waters, but how big can these behemoths get?

    Super-sized ships: How big can they get?

    Two of the largest vessels in the world cruised into UK waters last week
    British doctors on brink of 'cure' for paralysis with spinal cord treatment

    British doctors on brink of cure for paralysis

    Sufferers can now be offered the possibility of cure thanks to a revolutionary implant of regenerative cells
    Let's talk about loss

    We need to talk about loss

    Secrecy and silence surround stillbirth
    Will there be an all-female mission to Mars?

    Will there be an all-female mission to Mars?

    Women may be better suited to space travel than men are
    Oscar Pistorius sentencing: The athlete's wealth and notoriety have provoked a long overdue debate on South African prisons

    'They poured water on, then electrified me...'

    If Oscar Pistorius is sent to jail, his experience will not be that of other inmates
    James Wharton: The former Guard now fighting discrimination against gay soldiers

    The former Guard now fighting discrimination against gay soldiers

    Life after the Army has brought new battles for the LGBT activist James Wharton
    Ebola in the US: Panic over the virus threatens to infect President Obama's midterms

    Panic over Ebola threatens to infect the midterms

    Just one person has died, yet November's elections may be affected by what Republicans call 'Obama's Katrina', says Rupert Cornwell
    Premier League coaches join the RSC to swap the tricks of their trades

    Darling, you were fabulous! But offside...

    Premier League coaches are joining the RSC to learn acting skills, and in turn they will teach its actors to play football. Nick Clark finds out why
    How to dress with authority: Kirsty Wark and Camila Batmanghelidjh discuss the changing role of fashion in women's workwear

    How to dress with authority

    Kirsty Wark and Camila Batmanghelidjh discuss the changing role of fashion in women's workwear
    New book on Joy Division's Ian Curtis sheds new light on the life of the late singer

    New book on Ian Curtis sheds fresh light on the life of the late singer

    'Joy Division were making art... Ian was for real' says author Jon Savage
    Sean Harris: A rare interview with British acting's secret weapon

    Sean Harris: A rare interview with British acting's secret weapon

    The Bafta-winner talks Hollywood, being branded a psycho, and how Barbra Streisand is his true inspiration
    Tim Minchin, interview: The musician, comedian and world's favourite ginger is on scorching form

    Tim Minchin interview

    For a no-holds-barred comedian who is scathing about woolly thinking and oppressive religiosity, he is surprisingly gentle in person
    Boris Johnson's boozing won't win the puritan vote

    Boris's boozing won't win the puritan vote

    Many of us Brits still disapprove of conspicuous consumption – it's the way we were raised, says DJ Taylor
    Ash frontman Tim Wheeler reveals how he came to terms with his father's dementia

    Tim Wheeler: Alzheimer's, memories and my dad

    Wheeler's dad suffered from Alzheimer's for three years. When he died, there was only one way the Ash frontman knew how to respond: with a heartfelt solo album