Hollinghurst leads race for Booker Prize

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The Independent Culture

The hotly tipped triumvirate of Alan Hollinghurst, Colm Tóibín and David Mitchell all made it on to the long list for the prestigious Man Booker Prize yesterday, with Hollinghurst immediately made the bookmakers' favourite to win the £50,000 cheque.

The hotly tipped triumvirate of Alan Hollinghurst, Colm Tóibín and David Mitchell all made it on to the long list for the prestigious Man Booker Prize yesterday, with Hollinghurst immediately made the bookmakers' favourite to win the £50,000 cheque.

But there was disappointment for Andrea Levy, whose novel Small Island scooped the Orange Prize earlier this year but was snubbed entirely by the Booker jury, headed by the former culture secretary Chris Smith.

Two of Levy's Orange Prize rivals did, however, make the list; Shirley Hazzard, an Australian writer, with The Great Fire , her first novel for 23 years, and the young Nigerian author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie with her debut, Purple Hibiscus .

Despite past criticisms of the Booker for male-centricity, a third of the novels longlisted yesterday were by women and six of the 22 books in contention were by first-time novelists.

But Mr Smith said there had been no attempt at political correctness, just a determination to focus on language, character, storyline and ideas.

"It's a mixture of seriousness and fun; it ranges across several continents; getting a shortlist of six out of this variety will be a nightmare," he said.

Ladbroke's quickly made Hollinghurst's novel, The Line of Beauty , the 4-1 favourite. Although not a sequel to his debut, The Swimming Pool Library , which combined high literary style and low-rent gay sex, it picks up where that novel left off.

Hollinghurst, like Colm Tóibín, is influenced by Henry James. But 49-year-old Tóibín takes his fascination further by developing a whole novel out of the writer's life.

His book, The Master , shares second-favourite status in the Ladbroke's odds with David Mitchell, 35, for his ambitious novel Cloud Atlas , and Louise Dean, 34, a first-time novelist whose Becoming Strangers tells what happens when a couple, long struggling to deal with the husband's cancer, go on a tropical holiday.

A number of big-hitters have failed to make the list, including Justin Cartwright, Jonathan Coe, AL Kennedy, Hari Kunzru and Anita Desai. "But it's a very wide-ranging list and very international,'' said Christina Patterson, deputy literary editor of The Independent .

A shortlist will be announced on 21 September and the winner chosen on 19 October.

THE LONG LIST

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

'Purple Hibiscus', 4th Estate

Coming-of-age tale in which a 15-year-old Nigerian girl from a strict, wealthy family goes to stay with her aunt for the school holidays.

Nadeem Aslam

'Maps for Lost Lovers', Faber & Faber

After an unmarried couple are murdered for living in sin, a Pakistani community in England struggles with a cultural clash of tradition and modern liberal views.

Nicola Barker

'Clear: A Transparent Novel', 4th Estate

An insight into the hype surrounding David Blaine's perspex box stunt last year.

John Bemrose

'The Island Walkers', John Murray

The story of a 1960s blue-collar family that collectively slips from fortune's favour.

Ronan Bennett

'Havoc, in its Third Year', Bloomsbury

Set in England prior to the civil war, a married coroner grapples with his conscience when he falls for another woman while investigating the death of a child.

Susanna Clarke

'Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell', Bloomsbury

Mr Norrell and Jonathan Strange are magicians in 19th-century England. But soon Strange's pursuit of long-lost magic threatens their partnership.

Neil Cross

'Always the Sun', Scribner

After his mother dies, 13-year-old Jamie and his father, Sam, move to a new town. But the fresh start turns sour when Jamie is bullied and Sam struggles to protect him.

Achmat Dangor

'Bitter Fruit', Atlantic Books

A dark account of the history and legacy of apartheid, as a couple try to forget the past, while their son has to deal with the present.

Louise Dean

'Becoming Strangers', Scribner

A dying man on holiday with his wife meet another couple on their final trip together. The two couples come to realise that while their marriages may not have a happy ending, they can at least make up for lost time.

Lewis DeSoto

'A Blade of Grass', Maia Press

A British woman living on a farm on disputed land in South Africa struggles to run the business after her husband is killed.

Sarah Hall

'The Electric Michelangelo', Faber & Faber

A tattoo artist opens a tatto parlour called the Electronic Michelangelo where he falls for a circus performer who wants him to cover her entire body in tattooed eyes.

James Hamilton-Paterson

'Cooking with Fernet Branca', Faber & Faber

A hilarious farce set in an unfashionable corner of Tuscany.

Justin Haythe

'The Honeymoon', Picador

A young man unpicks a series of events that have caused his life to unravel at the end of the 20th century.

Shirley Hazzard

'The Great Fire', Virago

Aldred Leith, a gentlemanly British war hero, is in Japan in 1947 to write up his travels through a China, when hemeets Helen Driscoll, 15 years his junior.

Alan Hollinghurst

'The Line of Beauty', Picador

A diffident leech moves in with the family of a Conservative MP and immerses himself in Henry James and gay sex.

Gail Jones

'Sixty Lights', Harvill Press

The story of the short 19-century life of Lucy Strange, from her childhood in Australia to her death, aged 22, in London.

David Mitchell

'Cloud Atlas', Sceptre

Six stories with a core narrative at the centre - voices include a voyager crossing the Pacific in 1850 and a journalist in Governor Reagan's California.

Sam North

'The Unnumbered', Scribner

A love story in which economic migrants juggle three jobs and wonder whether to sell their bodies for money.

Nicholas Shakespeare

'Snowleg', Harvill Press

A mysterious woman captivates Peter Hithersay, a young Englishman studying in Hamburg.

Matt Thorne

'Cherry', Weidenfeld & Nicolson

A haunting study of what can happen when your dream partner enters your life.

Colm Toibin

'The Master', Picador

Toibin imagines the interior life of the American writer Henry James, who lived in Paris, Rome, Venice and London among the artists and writers of the day

Gerard Woodward

'I'll go to Bed at Noon', Chatto & Windus

What began as a summer idyll ends with dark undertones, as the Jones' family vacation on a Welsh camping ground develops into full-blown tragedy.

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