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25.07.12 | Charlotte Williams
Three books from Fourth Estate have made it onto the Man Booker Prize for Fiction longlist this year, along with two Faber titles, with Rose Tremain and Zadie Smith notable absentees.
The Yips by Nicola Barker, Bring Up the Bodies by previous winner Hilary Mantel, and Communion Town by Sam Thompson are the Fourth Estate titles on the list, with Nacropolis by Jeet Tahyil and Skios by Michael Frayn from Faber.
The Garden of Evening Mists by Tan Twan Eng (Myrmidion Books), The Lighthouse by Alison Moore (Salt), Umbrella by Will Self (Bloomsbury), and Swimming Home by Deborah Levy (And Other Stories) come from indie publishers.
Also on the list is Ned Beauman's The Teleportation Accident (Sceptre), Philida by Andre Brink (Harvill Secker), and The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry by Rachel Joyce (Doubleday).
Foyles web editor Jonathan Ruppin praised the list as being perfect for "introducing readers to books they might not have read before". He said: "It is one of those years that there are so many good books out that it is a punitive task to ask the judges to narrow it down. I haven't seen anything on there that make me think 'oh God, what are they doing?'"
He pointed out Rose Tremain and Zadie Smith as the two big names he was most surprised at being missing on the list of 12, but praised the inclusion of Will Self's, Nicola Barker's and Deborah Levy's work. He said: "This novel from Will Self was the one to mark him as a novelist rather than just a writer. Nicola Barker is just a fantastic author who has long-deserved a wider audience. And Swimming Home—it's fantastic for And Other Stories."
He added: "Retailers' first reaction might be a little bit of concern that the big names have been missed but they will sell them anyway. This is a perfect list for introducing readers to books they might not have read before. So many books that have been passed over this year, as there have been so many strong ones, so it gives readers the perfect reading list."
Jon Howells, PR and events manager at Waterstones, said: “My instant reaction is that the list contains good, strong authors and some which have been tipped to win before. Of course there are a few notable exceptions, which there always are, such as Zadie Smith and Ian McEwan. It is good to see some really strong publishers on there as well as some really small publishers. Rachel Joyce is in the Waterstones 11, which is great because we want to be tipping the books which will do well and win awards.”
As for an early bet on which book might claim this year’s title, Howells said that, in his opinion: ‘I am going to pick Nicola Barker's The Yips. I know people who have read it and think it is excellent—reviews have been very good by all accounts. It is black comedy, and the Booker judges are very open to the comic novel but they want a serious side as well.”
He said Waterstones stores would “certainly support” the Booker longlist in its stores.
Chair of judges Peter Stothard said: "Goodness, madness and bewildering urban change are among the themes of this year’s longlist. In an extraordinary year for fiction the Man Booker Dozen proves the grip that the novel has on our world. We did not set out to reject the old guard but, after a year of sustained critical argument by a demanding panel of judges, the new has come powering through.”
The judges this year are academic and literary critic Dinah Birch; historian, writer and broadcaster Amanda Foreman; actor Dan Stevens, and academic, writer and reviewer Bharat Tandon.
Meanwhile,Mantel's Bring Up the Bodies has been crowned the bookies' favourite to win the prize this year.
Both William Hill and Ladbrokes have pointed to previous winner Hilary Mantel as the favourite from the longlist to win, giving odds of 3/1 and 4/1 respectively.
Umbrella by Will Self followed in second place with odds of 5/1 at William Hill and 6/1 at Ladbrokes, sharing the odds with The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry there. Joyce's book was also given 6/1 odds at William Hill.
The outsiders are The Teleportation Accident by Ned Beauman (Sceptre), and Sam Thompson's Communion Town (Fourth Estate), both given odds of 20/1 at William Hill, with Narcopolis by Jeet Thayil (Faber) getting the same odds at Ladbrokes.
The shortlist will be announced on 11th September, with the winner to be revealed at a ceremony at London's Guildhall on 16th October.