JM Coetzee in line for Man Booker hat-trick

view gallery VIEW GALLERY

The South African writer and twice Booker prize winner, JM Coetzee, could make literary history if he wins a third time with his ficitional memoir, which was today selected on the annual award shortlist. No other Booker winner has performed a hat-trick in the prize’s 41-year history.



His novel features in a shortlist dominated by some of the literary world’s most revered figures including the bookmaker’s favourite, Hilary Mantel, as well as AS Byatt.

Jim Naughtie, the journalist and chair of the judges who revealed the selection, today praised the high quality of writing on a shortlist of multi-award winning authors and said that in former years some works which had to be eliminated by the judges at this stage would have made it onto the shortlist, such was the calibre of contenders vying for the £50,000 award. He said the final decision had been an "intense" one with difficult choices made over the final two books.

"Yes, in former years, some of the (13 longlisted) books would have made it on the shortlist. We had a formidable longlist. The last stage of the shortlist where we had seven or eight books was like chipping off the last bit of granite. It was very, very hard. I can honestly say I am looking forward to reading all six books again," he said.

Coetzee, a Nobel laureate who previously won the Booker for Life and Times of Michael K in 1983 and Disgrace in 1999, has been nominated for Summertime, based in the 1970s. Byatt, who won the prize for Possession in 1990, is this time up for her turn of the 20th century epic, The Children’s Book; Sarah Waters, who has been shortlisted twice before, has been selected with her post-war British ghost story, The Little Stranger; and Adam Foulds, who was widely rumoured to have come close to winning last year’s Costa prize with his first book of poems, The Broken Word, is up with his first novel about the 19th century poet, John Clare, called The Quickening Maze. Mantel, whose work has been shortlisted for the Orange Prize, is the bookmaker’s favourite to win with Wolf Hall, about Henry VIII’s adviser, Thomas Cromwell, and Simon Mawer’s The Glass Room, the sixth selected novel which is set in the Nazi era, is considered to be the only "surprise" choice on the list.

Two of the highest profile absentees included Irishmen Colm Toibin and William Trevor, both previous Booker prize nominees who were predicted to have breezed onto the shortlist.

Naughtie observed that the list was comprised of books of "historical fiction" ranging from the times of Henry VIII to post-war Britain and Nazi Czechoslovakia but said that that had been coincidental.

"We were certainly not promoting various forms of historical fiction so it was unconscious on our part. But it is interesting to consider that the fiction on the list does not take place in the present day, and it’s an interesting question to ponder why," said Naughtie.

The shortlist was very different from last year’s selection which included two debut novelists, one of whom, Aravind Adiga, won with The White Tiger.

Meanwhile, the longlisted book Me Cheeta, a spoof autobiography of a chimpanzee turned Hollywood star on the Tarzan movies, written by the debut author James Lever, was praised by Naughtie as a "brilliant piece of invention". He would not be drawn on whether it had been among the final two contenders which did not make it on the shortlist.

It had been the rank outsider but outsiders have proven the establishment wrong in previous years: Adiga was considered the wildcard last year. DBC Pierre who won the prize with Vernon God Little in 2003, and Yann Martel, with The Life of Pi, in 2002, were similarly regarded as outsiders.

The prize has changed the fortunes of some previous winners, whose books have rocketed into the bestseller charts as a result. The winner will be revealed next month.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Arts and Entertainment
The frill of it all: Hattie Morahan in 'The Changeling'

theatre
Arts and Entertainment
Gillian Anderson and David Duchovny may reunite for The X Files

tv
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment
Jeremy Clarkson, left, and Richard Hammond upset the locals in South America
TV
News
A young woman punched a police officer after attending a gig by US rapper Snoop Dogg
people
Arts and Entertainment
Reese Witherspoon starring in 'Wild'

It's hard not to warm to Reese Witherspoon's heroismfilm
Arts and Entertainment
Word up: Robbie Coltrane as dictionary guru Doctor Johnson in the classic sitcom Blackadder the Third
books

Arts and Entertainment
The Oscar nominations are due to be announced today

Oscars 2015
Arts and Entertainment
Hacked off: Maisie Williams in ‘Cyberbully’

Maisie Williams single-handedly rises to the challenge

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Eddie Redmayne in The Theory of Everything and Benedict Cumberbatch in The Imitation Game are both nominated at the Bafta Film Awards
Arts and Entertainment

Academy criticised after no non-white actors nominated

Arts and Entertainment
Damian Lewis shooting a scene as Henry VIII in Wolf Hall
TV

Arts and Entertainment
A history of violence: ‘Angry, White and Proud’ looked at the rise of far-right groups

tv

An expose of hooliganism masquerading as an ideological battle

Arts and Entertainment

art

Lee Hadwin can't draw when he's awake, but by night he's an artist

Arts and Entertainment

TV

Arts and Entertainment
Michael Keaton in the 1998 Beetlejuice original

film

Arts and Entertainment

TV

Arts and Entertainment
Olivia Colman and David Tennant star in 'Broadchurch'

TV

Arts and Entertainment
Michael Kitchen plays Christopher Foyle in ITV's 'Foyle's War'

TV
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Downton Abbey star Joanne Froggatt will be starring in Dominic Savage's new BBC drama The Secrets

Arts and Entertainment
Vividly drawn: Timothy Spall in Mike Leigh’s ‘Mr Turner’
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.

    Woman who was sent to three Nazi death camps describes how she escaped the gas chamber

    Auschwitz liberation 70th anniversary

    Woman sent to three Nazi death camps describes surviving gas chamber
    DSK, Dodo the Pimp, and the Carlton Hotel

    The inside track on France's trial of the year

    Dominique Strauss-Kahn, Dodo the Pimp, and the Carlton Hotel:
    As provocative now as they ever were

    Sarah Kane season

    Why her plays are as provocative now as when they were written
    Murder of Japanese hostage has grim echoes of a killing in Iraq 11 years ago

    Murder of Japanese hostage has grim echoes of another killing

    Japanese mood was against what was seen as irresponsible trips to a vicious war zone
    Syria crisis: Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more refugees as one young mother tells of torture by Assad regime

    Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more Syrian refugees

    One young mother tells of torture by Assad regime
    The enemy within: People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back – with promising results

    The enemy within

    People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back
    'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

    'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

    Survivors of the Nazi concentration camp remember its horror, 70 years on
    Autumn/winter menswear 2015: The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore

    Autumn/winter menswear 2015

    The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore
    'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

    'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

    Army general planning to come out
    Iraq invasion 2003: The bloody warnings six wise men gave to Tony Blair as he prepared to launch poorly planned campaign

    What the six wise men told Tony Blair

    Months before the invasion of Iraq in 2003, experts sought to warn the PM about his plans. Here, four of them recall that day
    25 years of The Independent on Sunday: The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century

    25 years of The Independent on Sunday

    The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century
    Homeless Veterans appeal: 'Really caring is a dangerous emotion in this kind of work'

    Homeless Veterans appeal

    As head of The Soldiers' Charity, Martin Rutledge has to temper compassion with realism. He tells Chris Green how his Army career prepared him
    Wu-Tang Clan and The Sexual Objects offer fans a chance to own the only copies of their latest albums

    Smash hit go under the hammer

    It's nice to pick up a new record once in a while, but the purchasers of two latest releases can go a step further - by buying the only copy
    Geeks who rocked the world: Documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry

    The geeks who rocked the world

    A new documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry
    Belle & Sebastian interview: Stuart Murdoch reveals how the band is taking a new direction

    Belle & Sebastian is taking a new direction

    Twenty years ago, Belle & Sebastian was a fey indie band from Glasgow. It still is – except today, as prime mover Stuart Murdoch admits, it has a global cult following, from Hollywood to South Korea