Rushdie, Ondaatje among Best of Booker favourites

February 21st, 2008 - 7:01 pm ICT by admin  

By Dipankar De Sarkar
London, Feb 21 (IANS) Bookies Thursday named Indian-born author Salman Rushdie’s “Midnight’s Children” as their odds-on favourite after the foundation running the Booker awards invited people around the world to select the ‘Best of Booker’ novel. People will select their favourites from among a shortlist of six novels to be selected by a panel and announced in May, the Man Booker Prize for Fiction announced Thursday.

As speculation mounted over the shortlist, bookmakers Ladbrokes named Rushdie’s path-breaking novel leading at odds of 4/1, followed by Michael Ondaatje’s “The English Patient” at 6/1.

While Rushdie, who was born in Mumbai, has kept up close connections with India throughout his dazzling literary career, Canada-based Ondaatje has often spoken about his Rajasthani ancestors who moved to Sri Lanka.

William Hill listed Yann Martel’s “Life of Pi” as favourite to win at odds of 4/1, followed by “Midnight’s Children” at 5/1 and Ondaatje just behind that at 7/1.

Man Booker announced the one-off Best of the Booker to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the prestigious literary prize.

The winner will be announced in July.

The prize will honour the best overall novel to have won the prize since it was first awarded April 22, 1969. Forty-one novels will be eligible for the award as there were two winners in 1974 and 1992.

The public will choose from a shortlist of six novels to be selected by a panel of judges chaired by British biographer Victoria Glendinning.

The two other judges on the panel are writer and broadcaster Mariella Frostrup and John Mullan, professor of English at University College London.

Glendinning said: “The Best of the Booker is a wonderful opportunity to read, or reread, some of the best literature in English of the past four decades. We are having a very good time revisiting the now-classic novels which won the Booker long ago, as well as the celebrated ones from recent years.

“All readers will enjoy this, and we look forward to hearing what the voters think - and which one, from our shortlist, they will judge the Best of the Booker.”

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