First-timers beat Rushdie to Booker Prize shortlist

Tuesday 09 September 2008 12:56 BST

A shortlist of "page turners" was announced today for this year's Man Booker Prize For Fiction.

It includes two first-time novelists, Aravind Adiga, the youngest on the list aged 34, and Steve Toltz.

The others shortlisted are Sebastian Barry, Amitav Ghosh, Linda Grant and Philip Hensher, a commentator for The Independent.

Barry was shortlisted in 2005 for his novel A Long, Long Way, Grant was longlisted in 2002 for Still Here and Hensher, once a Booker judge himself, was longlisted in 2002 for The Mulberry Empire.

The geographical spread of the list includes two Indian authors, two English authors, an Australian author and an Irish author.

Adiga was born in Madras, Barry in Dublin, Ghosh in Calcutta, Grant in Liverpool, Toltz in Sydney and Hensher lives in south London.

Salman Rushdie, who was on the longlist of 13 books for the Enchantress of Florence, did not make the shortlist.

Michael Portillo, chair of the judges, who announced the shortlist in London, said the decision not to include Rushdie's book on the final six was the result of the opinions of five people taken together.

He said the book "was not one of the six books for us. It does not mean it would not be for anybody else - it easily could be."

He said the debating process was not heated, but it was passionate and engaged.

Mr Portillo described it as a "strong year" with a "great deal of consensus".

He said: "We particularly think that this is a great year for readability. These books are great page turners."

He said three or four of the books were very funny, adding: "Book sellers should be pretty pleased with this list."

In July, Rushdie was named winner of the Best of the Booker Award for Midnight's Children, which won the Booker Prize in 1981.

The winner of this year's £50,000 prize will be announced on 14 October.

The full shortlist is as follows:

Aravind Adiga - 'The White Tiger'

Sebastian Barry - 'The Secret Scripture'

Amitav Ghosh - 'Sea of Poppies'

Linda Grant - 'The Clothes on Their Backs'

Philip Hensher - 'The Northern Clemency'

Steve Toltz - 'A Fraction of the Whole'

The six authors represent a broad geographical spread with two Indian authors, two English authors, an Australian author and an Irish author.

Three of the authors have something of a history with the prize as Sebastian Barry was shortlisted in 2005 for his novel 'A Long, Long Way', Linda Grant was longlisted in 2002 for her novel 'Still Here' and Philip Hensher, once a Booker judge himself, was longlisted in 2002 for his novel 'The Mulberry Empire'.

The winner receives £50,000 and can look forward to greatly increased sales and worldwide recognition. Each of the six shortlisted authors, including the winner, receives £2,500 and a designer bound edition of their own book.

The judging panel for the 2008 Man Booker Prize for Fiction is: Michael Portillo, former MP and Cabinet Minister; Alex Clark, editor of Granta; Louise Doughty, novelist; James Heneage, founder of Ottakar’s bookshops and Hardeep Singh Kohli, TV and radio broadcaster.

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