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Man Booker 2012 shortlist announced (before we were up)

September 11, 2012|By Carolyn Kellogg
  • Authors Hilary Mantel, Will Self and Jeet Thayil are among the six shortlisted for the 2012 Man Booker Prize.
Authors Hilary Mantel, Will Self and Jeet Thayil are among the six shortlisted… (Man Booker Prize )

The 2012 Man Booker shortlist was announced Tuesday morning in London. It happened about 3 a.m. Pacific; we bring you our summary after the sun has made it over our horizon.

The six shortlisted authors are in competition for one of the world's most lucrative and widely celebrated  prizes for literary fiction. The Man Booker, worth about $80,000, will be awarded at a gala ceremony in London on Oct. 16.

The authors include those both expected and unexpected. Hilary Mantel's novel "Wolf Hall," a bestseller on both sides of the Atlantic that happened to win the 2009 Man Booker Prize, has made the list with its sequel, "Bring Up the Bodies." Hardly a shocker.

Less predictable was Jeet Thayil's making the shortlist cut. The Indian-born author, who was raised in Hong Kong, India and the U.S., is a musician and poet; "Narcopolis" is his first novel. Set in and around a 1970s opium den, it's racier than some other British literary prize fare.

The news release from the Man Booker prize describes Will Self as "a radical of contemporary literature," but he's a well-known radical. This year marks this first time Self, who has published more than a dozen books, has been in the running for the Man Booker Prize. The book is the novel "Umbrella."

Author Tan Twan Eng, who was born and raised in Malaysia, previously made the longlist with his first novel and has now reached the shortlist with his second, "The Garden of Evening Mists." Being recognized by the Booker is significant, he told the organizers, because "It’s difficult for new writers like me, who is not part of the established rank of authors in the U.K., to get my novels more widely reviewed and read."

Alison Moore, a prize-winning short story writer, has made the shortlist with her debut novel, "The Lighthouse." The book, published by a small British independent, has been described as "quietly startling."

Deborah Levy is a veteran author whose shortlisted novel "Swimming Home" was also published by an independent. After it made the longlist, it was published in the U.K. in a mass market paperback edition.

The Man Booker Prize judging committee changes each year. This year the panel was led by Peter Stothard and includes Dinah Birch, an academic and literary critic; Amanda Foreman, a historian, writer and broadcaster; Bharat Tandon, academic, writer and reviewer and Cousin Matthew -- I mean "Downton Abbey" actor Dan Stevens.

Update: A previous version of this post referred to Mantel's book as "Bringing Up the Bodies" (the correct title is "Bring Up the Bodies") and to Levy's book as "Swimming" (the correct title is "Swimming Home").

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