Hilary Mantel remains favourite for the Man Booker Prize after being named on the six-strong shortlist, announced at a press conference this morning (8 September). Colm Toibin and William Trevor were shock omissions. A'S Byatt The Children's Book (Chatto) J M Coetzee Summertime (Harvill Secker) Adam Foulds The Quickening Maze (Cape) Hilary Mantel Wolf Hall (Fourth Estate) Simon Mawer The Glass Room (Little, Brown) Sarah Waters The Little Stranger (Virago).
The judges - James Naughtie (Chair), Lucasta Miller, Michael Prodger, John Mullan, and Sue Perkins - reached their final six yesterday evening, and managed to keep the news from curious journalists until this morning's press conference, held at the Man Group's headquarters at Sugar Quay, London EC3. Naughtie said: 'These are six writers on the top of their form. They've given us great enjoyment already, and it's a measure of our confidence in their books that all of us are looking forward to reading them yet again before we decide on the prizewinner. What more could we ask?'
At William Hill, Spokesman Graham Sharpe said that 95% of the bets on the prize had been for Wolf Hall, which before the shortlist was the 6/4 favourite. At Ladbrokes, Mantel's novel had been backed down from 16/1 to 2/1. The price is likely to contract still further.
The Man Booker Prize dinner, at which the winner will receive £50,000, will take place on 6 October. (.)