UK & World News
Hilary Mantel Aims To Bag A Booker Double
Two authors shortlisted for this year's Man Booker Prize have been nominated for their debut novels, but previous winner Hilary Mantel remains the odds-on favourite.
Mantel, who won in 2009 with Wolf Hall, will become the first British writer to win the £50,000 prize twice if she is awarded for Bring Up The Bodies, the second instalment in her planned trilogy on the life of Thomas Cromwell.
The debut writers are Indian performance-poet, songwriter and guitarist Jeet Thayil, 53, and Manchester-born Alison Moore.
Thayil's Narcopolis, which judges praised for its "perfume prose", is set in Bombay in the 1970s.
Stretching across three decades it portrays an underworld city of pimps, drug dealers, poets, gangsters and eunuchs.
Moore's The Lighthouse relates the tale of a middle-aged, recently-separated man, who crosses the English Channel by ferry after the breakdown of his marriage.
As he continues his travels he confronts the difficult relationship he had with his mother, who abandoned him when he was just a boy.
The Garden Of Evening Mists by Tan Twan Eng tells the story of a survivor of a Second World War Japanese prison camp.
Deborah Levy's novel Swimming Home was originally rejected by traditional publishers. Set on the French Riviera over a single week, Levy's book tells the story of a family on holiday whose lives are invaded by botanist Kitty Finch.
The book hit the shelves only after it was published by a small company which uses a subscription method to bring out many of its books.
First-time contender Will Self's Umbrella, a novel which has no chapters and few paragraph breaks, has been described as both "moving and draining" by judges.
After the shortlist was announced last month, bookmaker Ladbrokes made Mantel favourite to win the prize, followed by Self.
In 2011 the judges were accused of dumbing-down the prize, and omitting big names.
Last year's winner, The Sense Of An Ending, by Julian Barnes, has sold more than 300,000 print editions in the UK.
This year's judging panel is chaired by Sir Peter Stothard, editor of The Times Literary Supplement.
If Mantel does win, she would become just the third writer to clinch the award twice since its inception in 1969, joining Australian author Peter Carey, who won in 1988 and 2001, and South African JM Coetzee, who won in 1983 and 1999.