Man Booker Prize shortlist announced

The six-strong Man Booker Prize shortlist has been revealed

The six writers who have been shortlisted to win the £50,000 Man Booker Prize have been revealed.

Ian McEwan, whose 2001 novel Atonement has just been made in to a movie starring Keira Knightley, has been nominated for his novella, On Chesil Beach.

But, surprisingly, McEwan is the only commercially successful writer shortlisted. His book has sold over 100,000, while other contenders like Indra Sinha’s Animal’s People, loosely based on a Bhopal chemical explosion, had sold only 231 copies in Britain in August.

Nicola Barker’s Darkmans had sold only 499 copies, Anne Enright’s The Gathering clocked up sales of 834, Lloyd Jones’s Mister Pip had sales of 880 and only Pakistani author Mohsin Hamid’s The Reluctant Fundamentalist broke the four-figure barrier, with 1,519 readers snapping it up.

But do the figures for UK sales, provided by Nielsen Bookscan for the Bookseller magazine, show a dwindling interest in the prize first launched in 1969?

The administrator, Ion Trewin, believes not – and predicts that sales will boom after the shorTlist announcement. He defended the choice of little-known writers, saying: ‘One of the joys of this prize is identifying talent for the future.

‘It is a strong list and if we had six well-known names every year we would be criticised for not encouraging new talent. And just because you are a well-known name, it does not mean that you produce your best work every year.’

And Sir Howard Davies, director of the London School of Economics and chairman of this year’s judges, agrees. He said that there was ‘no shortage of depth’ in the shortlisted books and the choice of less established writers ‘reflects the diversity of modern English writing’.

The other judges are the poet Wendy Cope, the journalist and author Giles Foden, biographer and critic Ruth Scurr and the actress Imogen Stubbs.

This year’s winner will be announced on 16 October.

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