Seth and Rushdie fail to make the top six

THE SHORTLIST for the Booker prize, usually guaranteed to engender controversy and damage literary reputations, has been true to form with the latest list, announced yesterday.

In a rout of established literary figures, the judges excluded works by Salman Rushdie, Vikram Seth, Rose Tremain and Barry Unsworth.

The first-time novelist Andrew O'Hagan and the former winner J M Coetzee are among the six shortlisted authors for the prestigious pounds 21,000 prize. They are joined by Michael Frayn, Anita Desai, Ahdaf Soueif and Colm Toibin.

It had been widely expected that this year's prize would, in sporting terms, feature a head-to-head battle between the heavyweight Indian-born writers Vikram Seth and Salman Rushdie, a past winner. Both are understood to have been near the shortlist, as was Barry Unsworth. But the judges chose a list that includes some writers with very little public profile.

Certainly Rushdie and Seth had admirers on the judging panel. The chairman, Gerald Kaufman MP, is on record as saying that Seth's previous novel, A Suitable Boy - the longest single-volume English-language novel - is his "book of the century".

And his fellow judge Professor John Sutherland, when submitting a newspaper review of Rushdie's The Ground Beneath Her Feet, sent an accompanying note saying: "Herewith the winner of the 1999 Booker Prize."

Mr Kaufman said yesterday: "While there were quite a number of novels of high quality, the judges found at least 10 to be of major stature. This made the final choice particularly difficult, and each of those 10 books was carefully and strongly discussed until the list had been refined down to six."

He added: "The panel consists of Mr Kaufman; Natasha Walter, a columnist at The Independent and author; the novelist Shena Mackay; John Sutherland, professor of English at University College, London; and the literary editor of The Independent, Boyd Tonkin.

The eventual winner will be named at a dinner at London's Guildhall on Monday 25 October, with a live broadcast of the announcement on Channel 4.



Secker & Warburg

pounds 14.99

JM Coetzee: a former winner of the Booker Prize, is Professor of General Literature at the University of Cape Town

Refusing to apologise after an impulsive affair with a student, David Lurie, a 52-year-old professor in Cape Town, seeks refuge on his daughter's farm where a savage attack brings into relief the faults in their relationship

"A subtle, multi-layered story, as much concerned with politics as it is with the itch of male flesh. Coetzee's prose is chaste and lyrical without being self- conscious."



Chatto & Windus

pounds 14.99

Anita Desai: twice shortlisted for the Booker, she teaches in America and divides her time between India, Massachussetts and Cambridge

It contrasts a close-knit Indian household, with the life the younger son finds when he spends the summer in Massachusetts with the Patton family and their freezer full of meat that nobody wants to eat

"Subtext and context are reduced to a minimum, prose stripped to essentials but all the more luminous for its bareness; a combination of savagery and compassion."



Faber & Faber

pounds 16.99

Michael Frayn: former journalist and a prolific playwright

It pitches from gallery to museum to library delivering an extended lesson in iconography and aesthetics

"Its learning becomes a fascinating alternative climate into which you plunge in respite from the hectic narrative."



Faber & Faber

pounds 16.99

Andrew O'Hagan: born in Glasgow, he is on the editorial board of the London Review of Books. This is his first novel

It tells the story of Hugh Bawn, dreamer, socialist and man of the people, as he lies on his deathbed on the eighteenth floor watching the flats he built coming down. His grandson, Jamie, comes home to watch over his dying mentor

"Andrew O'Hagan offers a vision of memorial and contemporary time comparable to Lewis Grassic Gibbon's Scots Quair trilogy."




pounds 16.99

Ahdaf Soueif: born in Cairo and educated in Egypt and England. She is the author of three other books and lives in London

It is the turn of the century. The widowed Lady Anna Winterbourne meets Sharif Pash al-Barudi, an Egyptian nationalist in Cairo. She represents the antithesis of everything he stands for but they fall in love and marry

"Soueif is at her most eloquent on the subject of her homeland, her prose rich with historical detail and debate. Ultimately, Egypt emerges as the true heroine of this novel."




pounds 15.00

Colm Toibin: born in Ireland, he is the co-author, with Carmen Callil, of The Modern Library which was published this year

Set in modern day Ireland, The Blackwater Lightship tells the tale of three women, Dora Devereaux, her daughter Lily and grand-daughter Helen. They arrive at an uneasy peace with each other after years of strife

"The Blackwater Lightship is a mature, philosophical work which moves stylishly between dialogue, introspection and objective narration in a manner reminiscent of Virginia Woolf's To the Lighthouse."


Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment
Stik on the crane as he completed the mural
Happy in his hat: Pharrell Williams
i100(More than you think)
Phyllis Dorothy James on stage during a reading of her book 'Death Comes to Pemberley' last year
peopleJohn Walsh pays tribute to PD James, who died today
peopleExclusive: Maryum and Hana Ali share their stories of the family man behind the boxing gloves
Arts and Entertainment
John Hurt will voice Prince Bolkonsky in Radio 4's War and Peace
radioRadio 4 to broadcast 10-hour adaptation of War and Peace on first day of 2015
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Austen Lloyd: Commercial / Residential Property - Surrey


Recruitment Genius: Graduate Programme - Online Location Services Business

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: What do you want to do with your career? Do yo...

Recruitment Genius: Senior QC Scientist

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This company is a leading expert in immunoassa...

Recruitment Genius: Development Scientist

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A Development Scientist is required to join a ...

Day In a Page

Should doctors and patients learn to plan humane, happier endings rather than trying to prolong life?

Is it always right to try to prolong life?

Most of us would prefer to die in our own beds, with our families beside us. But, as a GP, Margaret McCartney sees too many end their days in a medicalised battle
Thomas Cook's outgoing boss Harriet Green got by on four hours sleep a night - is that what it takes for women to get to the top?

What does it take for women to get to the top?

Thomas Cook's outgoing boss Harriet Green got by on four hours sleep a night and told women they had to do more if they wanted to get on
Christmas 2014: 10 best educational toys

Learn and play: 10 best educational toys

Of course you want them to have fun, but even better if they can learn at the same time
Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

It's in all our interests to look after servicemen and women who fall on hard times, say party leaders
Millionaire Sol Campbell wades into wealthy backlash against Labour's mansion tax

Sol Campbell cries foul at Labour's mansion tax

The former England defender joins Myleene Klass, Griff Rhys Jones and Melvyn Bragg in criticising proposals
Nicolas Sarkozy returns: The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?

Sarkozy returns

The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?
Is the criticism of Ed Miliband a coded form of anti-Semitism?

Is the criticism of Miliband anti-Semitic?

Attacks on the Labour leader have coalesced around a sense that he is different, weird, a man apart. But is the criticism more sinister?
Ouija boards are the must-have gift this Christmas, fuelled by a schlock horror film

Ouija boards are the must-have festive gift

Simon Usborne explores the appeal - and mysteries - of a century-old parlour game
There's a Good Girl exhibition: How female creatives are changing the way women are portrayed in advertising

In pictures: There's a Good Girl exhibition

The new exhibition reveals how female creatives are changing the way women are portrayed in advertising
UK firm Biscuiteers is giving cookies a makeover - from advent calendars to doll's houses

UK firm Biscuiteers is giving cookies a makeover

It worked with cupcakes, doughnuts and macarons so no wonder someone decided to revamp the humble biscuit
Can SkySaga capture the Minecraft magic?

Can SkySaga capture the Minecraft magic?

It's no surprise that the building game born in Sweden in 2009 and now played by millions, has imitators keen to construct their own mega money-spinner
The King's School is way ahead of the pack when it comes to using the latest classroom technology

Staying connected: The King's School

The school in Cambridgeshire is ahead of the pack when it comes to using the latest classroom technology. Richard Garner discovers how teachers and pupils stay connected
Christmas 2014: 23 best women's perfumes

Festively fragrant: the best women's perfumes

Give a loved one a luxe fragrance this year or treat yourself to a sensual pick-me-up
Arsenal vs Borussia Dortmund: Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain celebrates century with trademark display of speed and intuition

Arsenal vs Borussia Dortmund

The Ox celebrates century with trademark display of speed and intuition