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Best bets for the Man Booker Prize

By Channel 4 News

Updated on 07 September 2007

Get the lowdown on the shortlisted six, and check out the odds for a literary flutter.

With big names like Ian McEwan and lesser known but already published authors like Nicola Barker on the shortlist, no debut novels made it into the final running for the coveted £50,000 prize.

The prize, founded in 1969, rewards the best novel of the year written by a writer from Britain, Ireland or a Commonwealth country. It guarantees the winner instant literary fame and a place in bestseller lists around the globe.

The winner will be announced on 16 October.

On Chesil Beach, Ian McEwan

On Chesil Beach, Ian McEwan

McEwan, who has already won the Booker Prize for his novel Amsterdam, is undoubtedly the headline grabber for the prize. With the film of his book Atonement on general release from tonight, the announcement couldn't have come at a more press-friendly time.

On Chesil Beach chronicles a shy young couple's wedding night.

Critic's review

"It is a polished, civilised style, and very distant from the shock tactics of his early work ... It is a curiously chastened view of the excitements of that decade, but it resonates in these chastened times."
The Guardian

Punters' reviews

"I loved this book. I'd read 'Saturday' and found it a bit long and wordy whereas as 'On Chesil Beach' was shorter and seemed tighter and beautifully evocative of the early '60s."
D Steward

"Like watching paint dry. Overhyped, lightweight literary froth. Don't even bother with it."

Odds: 6-4 (Ladbrokes) 5-2 (William Hill)
Ladbrokes says there is £10,000 placed on him and William Hill says there could be an unprecedented six-figure payout on the winner.

Mister Pip, Lloyd Jones

Mister Pip

New Zealand writer Lloyd Jones's Mister Pip is set amid upheaval in Papua New Guinea. According to the bookies, its going head to head against Ian McEwan's novella On Chesil Beach - a William Hill spokesperson said: "In a quarter of a century of Booker betting I cannot recall as spectacular a gamble.

Gamblers have even bet on a famous New Zealand double: Jones winning the Booker and the All Blacks landing the Rugby World Cup.

Critic's review

"Lloyd Jones brings to life the transformative power of fiction. He shows how an alternative world can become more real than your own, how a story can teach you more about your life than anything closer to you."
The Sunday Times

Punters' reviews

"It is an enchanting, lyrical, lush, and politically powerful tale by a prize-winning author of world-standing literary ability."
B Case

"Jones masterfully re-creates life within this small village using straight-forward, beautifully-wrought prose."
Eric Anderson

Odds: 2-1

The Gathering, Anne Enright

The Gathering

Anne Enright, 44, lives in Dublin and has published three previous novels as well as one prize-winning collection of stories. Her novel The Gathering is about family relationships and personal breakdown in Ireland and England.

Critic's review

"It is clearly the product of a remarkable intelligence, combined with a gift for observation and deduction"

Punters' reviews

"The gathering started out so well, beautiful language and description but then it just got stuck and from then on it was complete navel gazing."
Justine Gordon

"The writing is very strong- characters are clearly etched out and I could almost feel the emotions being described."

Odds: 8-1

Animal's People, Indra Sinha

Animal's People

Animal's People, is set in the aftermath of a chemical leak, drawing on the real life events in Bhopal. Its author, Indra Sinha, 57, was born in India and now lives in Southern France.

Critic's review

"Animal's People - part coming-of-age Bildungsroman, part vicious critique of corporate terrorism - is a bold and punchy tale."
New Statesman

Punters' reviews

"A powerful book. Animal develops and matures before our eyes. Some big surprises."
Citizen Kane

"The novel is quite excellent - save for the irritating device of using Animal's convoluted syntax and spelling to deliver the narration."

Odds: 8-1

The Reluctant Fundamentalist, Moshin Hamid

The Reluctant Fundamentalist

The Reluctant Fundamentalist follows a Pakistani-born man whose life in elite New York society crumbles post September 11.

Its the second novel by Mohsin Hamid, 36, who was born in Pakistan, worked in New York and now lives in London.

Critic's review

"Criticisms of The Reluctant Fundamentalist are a testament to its genuinely provocative nature, and it remains, at the very least, an intelligent, highly engaging piece of work."

Punters' reviews "Beautifully nuanced with fragile immigrant hopes and the tragic annihilation of a promising future, the author paints a provocative picture of post-9/11 reality."
Luan Gaines

"This fantastic novel is one that you should finish before reading reviews since knowing too much of the plot will spoil this story for you."
H F Corbin

Odds: 5-1

Darkmans, Nicola Barker


Darkmans is a contemporary ghost story set in modern day Ashford.

Its author, 41-year-old Nicola Barker lives in east London and was long listed for the prize in 2004 for her novel Clear.

Critic's review

"Darkmans is one of her most challenging novels ... hundreds of pages pass with little or no dramatic incident. Gradually, a theme emerges: the impact of the past on the present, and how the modern novel or town cannot afford to ignore history."
The Independent

Punters' reviews

"Does Darkmans deserve to be Booker shortlisted? Yes. Does it deserve to win? Perhaps. Will it win? Almost certainly not - long, comic novels never do."
Mister Hobgoblin

"Either you delete all pre-conceptions about what a novel should be and go for total-immersion reading, expect fictional expectations to be subverted and assumptions to be challenged, or Darkmans may remain an unreadable mystery."
Dovegreyreader scribbles

Odds: 4-1

Nominees at a glance

  • Darkmans by Nicola Barker (4th Estate)
  • The Gathering by Anne Enright (Jonathan Cape)
  • The Reluctant Fundamentalist by Mohsin Hamid (Hamish Hamilton)
  • Mister Pip by Lloyd Jones (John Murray)
  • On Chesil Beach by Ian McEwan (Jonathan Cape)
  • Animal's People by Indra Sinha (Simon & Schuster)

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