Article from the scotsman.com
Booker Prize: Historical novel favourite to win book award
A HISTORICAL novel about Henry VIII's adviser, Thomas Cromwell, leads the shortlist for this year's Man Booker Prize, which was announced today.
Wolf Hall, by Hilary Mantel, which tells the story of Cromwell's rise to prominence in the Tudor court, is the bookmakers' favourite to win the prestigious award.
South African author JM Coetzee also made the shortlist with his fictionalised memoir Summertime, putting him in line for what would be an unprecedented third Booker.
Sarah Waters will be hoping to make it third time lucky with her novel The Little Stranger – she has been shortlisted twice before without winning.
There was no place on the shortlist for Irish author Colm Toibin, who has also twice made the shortlist without success.
The Man Booker Prize is worth £50,000 to the winner, but inevitably leads to a huge jump in sales, as well as international acclaim.
Last year's prize went to Aravind Adiga for The White Tiger, which has sold more than half a million copies and been translated into 30 different languages.
Completing the shortlist of books that will compete for this year's prize are Simon Mawer's The Glass Room, Adam Foulds' The Quickening Maze and AS Byatt's The Children's Book.
Now in its 41st year, the prize recognises the best new fiction in English, and any writer from the UK, Ireland and the Commonwealth is eligible.
A total of 132 books were considered for this year's long list of 13, announced on July 28 and after three hours of intense discussion, the panel of judges whittled the list down to the six titles named today.
James Naughtie, the chair of judges, said the six shortlisted authors were all writers at the peak of their powers.
"We feel it's a really strong shortlist," he said.
"We had quite a tough time because it was such a good long list. It was a tough time, without blood but with tears, because we had to say goodbye to some of the books.
"They are all very, very, good books that entranced us in different ways."
He added that the judges had not yet given thought to who might win the prize and said choosing one would be an enormous challenge.
Coetzee won the Booker in 1999 with Disgrace and in 1983 with Life & Times Of Michael K, and Summertime completes the trilogy of fictionalised memoir begun with Boyhood And Youth.
Naughtie defended the memoir's inclusion in the list, saying the book used "all the tools of fiction" to tell its story and was certainly not an autobiography in the conventional sense.
The book recounts a young English biographer's attempt to write the life story of a dead South African author, John Coetzee, through interviews with people who knew him.
One of the judges, Michael Prodger, the literary editor of The Sunday Telegraph, said, as an account of his character, Coetzee's book was both "unbelievably self-flagellating", creating a picture of a heartless and unpleasant man, and beautifully written.
"We all came away from this book wishing we could write like JM Coetzee but profoundly glad we were not JM Coetzee," Prodger said.
Byatt is the only other former Booker winner on the shortlist – her novel Possession won in 1990 – and, at 34, Foulds is the youngest author on this year's list.
His book is set in a lunatic asylum in the mid-19th century and tells the story of a meeting between the great nature poet John Clare, who is incarcerated, and the young Alfred (later Lord) Tennyson.
Naughtie and Prodger are joined on the judging panel by the comedian, writer and broadcaster Sue Perkins, the writer and critic Lucasta Miller and the academic Professor John Mullan.
The winner will be announced on October 6 at London's Guildhall.
The 2009 Man Booker Prize for Fiction shortlist:
AS Byatt – The Children's Book
JM Coetzee – Summertime
Adam Foulds – The Quickening Maze
Sarah Hall – How to Paint a Dead Man
Samantha Harvey – The Wilderness
James Lever – Me Cheeta
Hilary Mantel – Wolf Hall
Simon Mawer – The Glass Room
Ed O'Loughlin – Not Untrue & Not Unkind
James Scudamore – Heliopolis
Colm Toibin – Brooklyn
William Trevor – Love and Summer
Sarah Waters – The Little Stranger
Page 1 of 1
Last Updated: 08 September 2009 2:14 PM
Related Topics: Booker Prize
Booker Prize 2009 - AbeBooks
Shared via AddThis