Man Booker: bookies back Thien, while Macrae Burnet is 'people's favourite'

Man Booker: bookies back Thien, while Macrae Burnet is 'people's favourite'

Independent booksellers are backing Graeme Macrae Burnet’s His Bloody Project (Contraband) to win the Man Booker Prize this evening (25th October), following strong sales.

However the novel sits in the middle of the pack for the bookies, after being given odds of 4/1 by WIlliam Hill. Madeleine Thien's Do Not Say We Have Nothing (Granta Books) is the favourite at 7/4, with "household name" Deborah Levy's Hot Milk  (Hamish Hamilton) at 11/4, Paul Beatty's The Sellout  (Oneworld) at 5/1, David Szalay’s All That Man Is (Jonathan Cape) at 7/1 and Ottessa Moshfegh's Eileen (Jonathan Cape) at 8/1. 

Amy Worth, Kindle content director for, has dubbed His Bloody Project "the people's favourite" after revealing it had attracted more sales for the online retailer than any other title on the Man Booker shortlist, experiencing a 319% uplift in sales in the Kindle Store the month following its shortlisting.​

Nielsen BookScan has the book as the sales frontrunner, with 30,262 copies sold.

Richard Drake of Drake bookshop in Stockton said his shop had been championing His Bloody Project. "I really enjoyed the departure from whodunnit to whydunnit and there has been quite a lot of discussion with customers about how Robert Louis Stevenson it is in it style," said Drake, adding, "It seems that the 'littleman' has a real shot this year as far as publishers go and we think Graeme McRae Burnet has a real shot". His partner and co-owner of the shop, Mel Greenwood, further called it, "The most perfectly put together literary crime novel in a long long time... brilliant."

Kira Gibson from the Chorleywood Bookshop, recently named the Vintage Independent Bookshop of the Year 2016, said the book had been popular in store. "His Bloody Project by Graeme Macrae Burnet and Eileen by Ottessa Moshfegh have been most popular in both bookshops, since the shortlist was announced," she said. "I think they appeal to people, as they are both quite shocking and very unusual reads. Allowing the reader a rare insight into a complex character's mind and motivations."

Sarah Rees from Cover to Cover in Swansea speculated Eileen and His Bloody Project may be doing so well on the shop floor as the only two books from the shortlist in paperback, and because of the popularity of the genre. "I hate to say this but His Bloody Project and Eileen are already in paperback, and Eileen is a crime novel which is always popular. The fact it's in paperback might encourage people to read it," said Rees, adding of Eileen's dust-jacket description, "Everybody loves these psychological thrillers these days." 

Marie Moser from The Edinburgh Bookshop said, while format "always" impacted on sales, the ultimate winner of the Man Booker Prize was of course "impossible to call". On "home turf", published by Scottish independent publisher Contraband, she however said she would be rooting too for Graeme Macrae Burnet’s His Bloody Project.

"It's impossible to call; that's one of the great things about the Man Booker is that it is traditionally [very difficult to predict]. But we can't keep His Bloody Project on the shelves right now. It is a walking out the shop, along with Eileen; perhaps because they're not so thick, people think 'I've got a shot of reading that'," said Moser. "Because he's Scottish is the other factor. We'd be dead chuffed if he won, it's a small Scottish publisher."

She added: "Even if one doesn't win the prize, there's often massive visibility of the shortlist and therefore sales. Regardless no author should ever despair, the audience will think 'I've heard of you': it's worked. There are inbuilt benefits."