Thursday, September 08, 2005

Man Booker Prize 2005: Shortlist

John Banville - The Sea
Julian Barnes - Arthur & George
Sebastian Barry - A Long Long Way
Kazuo Ishiguro - Never Let Me Go
Ali Smith - The Accidental
Zadie Smith - On Beauty

So the judges have not just snubbed big names, they've snubbed the three biggest.

I'm amazed that Ian McEwan isn't on the list and disappointed by the absence of JM Coetzee. Maybe at the back of the judges' minds was the feeling that McEwan, Coetzee and Rushdie don't need the publicity as much as the others. Barnes will be the favourite with the Bookies, but suddenly the contest (for want of a better word) is wide open. These are all lovely writers.

It's a shortlist that contains something for everyone: murder and mystery, humour and sadness, the past and the future, and characters young and old.

I can't see Ishiguro's book being strong enough for him to win again - not least because Barnes and Banville haven't won before despite receiving several nominations, so both are quite rightly seen as 'deserving' the Booker. Surprisingly, Sebastian Barry is second favourite according to Ladbrokes - I don't see A Long, Long Way winning, but I suspect it will become very popular with reading groups over the next year or two. Apparently The Accidental is the 12-1 outsider with William Hill. Nice odds. There's something about Ali Smith's writing that is easy to fall in love with...

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