Previous Man Booker Prize for Fiction winner Alan Hollinghurst has missed the shortlist for this year’s prize, which includes two debuts—Stephen Kelman and A D Miller— and a wealth of titles from indies.
Bookies’ favourite and previously thrice-shortlisted Julian Barnes has made the six-strong list, announced this morning (6th September), his The Sense of an Ending (Random House/Cape) the only title from one of the major publishers.
The rest of the list is from indies, including four from the Independent Alliance, with Carol Birch's Jamrach’s Menagerie (Canongate); Patrick deWitt's The Sisters Brothers (Granta); Esi Edugyan's Half Blood Blues (Serpent’s Tail); A D Miller's Snowdrops (Atlantic); plus Stephen Kelman's Pigeon English (Bloomsbury).
Other longlisted titles which did not make the shortlist include Sebastian Barry's On Canaan's Side (Faber) and D J Taylor's Derby Day (Chatto).
Chair of judges, Stella Rimington, said: "Inevitably it was hard to whittle down the longlist to six titles. We were sorry to lose some great books.
"But, when push came to shove, we quickly agreed that these six very different titles were the best."
Foyles' Jonathan Ruppin said he was "keen" to hear more on the judges' discussions. He said: "The longlist and the shortlist have provoked more debate amongst the staff than ever before as so many truly outstanding novels didn't make the longlist and more have fallen at this stage, and as such we're keen to hear Stella Rimington's insights into the judging criteria when the winner is announced."
He described sales for the longlisted titles as "moderate with the exception of the Barnes, Hollinghurst and Barry, authors whose
much anticipated titles we'd expect to be bestsellers anyway." He added that the "recognition for so many smaller publishers this year has certainly provided evidence of strength-in-depth beyond the standard front-of-house promotions and there are a couple of relatively unsung authors we're particularly excited to see on the list . . .Edugyan's Half Blood Blues, particularly, would make a very deserving winner."
According to recent Nielsen BookScan figures, Barnes is the most popular shortlistee in sales terms, chalking up sales of 11,244 copies so far. The most popular shortlisted titles after Barnes are Pigeon English (2,873); The Sisters Brothers (1,936); Half-blood Blues (1,274); Jamrach's Menagerie (1,071) and Snowdrops (1,029). Of the longlisted titles, Hollinghurst's The Stranger's Child (Picador) comes in second, with sales of 7,336 copies.
The winner will be announced on 18th October and broadcast on the BBC. The winner will receive £50,000 and each of the six shortlisted authors, including the winner, will receive £2,500 and a designer bound edition of their book.