'Unpredictable' shortlist from Booker

<p>The Booker judges have ignored the bookies&#39; and book buyers&#39; favourites with what has been described as an &quot;unpredictable&quot; shortlist. But the big news is the omission of Salman Rushdie, whose T<em>he Enchantress of Florence</em> had been the bestselling of the longlisted titles.<br /><br />Ladbrokes&#39; frontrunner was Rushdie at 4/1, with William Hill tipping Joseph O&#39;Neill at 7/2. The two authors were also the bestselling longlisted books with <em>The Enchantress of Florence</em> selling 2,542 copies in all its editions, and Joseph O&#39;Neill&#39;s <em>Netherland</em> shifting 2,369, since the longlist was announced six weeks ago.</p><p>But both missed out on the shortlist. The 2008 shortlist instead includes two first time novelists, Aravind Adiga and Steve Toltz, along with Sebastian Barry, Amitav Ghosh, Linda Grant, and Philip Hensher. The six authors also represent a broad geographical spread with two Indian authors, two English authors, an Australian author and an Irish author. <br /><br />Michael Portillo, chair of judges, said: &quot;These novels are intensely readable, each of them an extraordinary example of imagination and narrative. These fine page-turning stories nonetheless raise highly thought-provoking ideas and issues. These books are in every case both ambitious and approachable.&quot;</p><p>Jonathan Ruppin, promotions buyer at Foyles, said: &quot;The shortlist has turned out to be as delightfully unpredictable as the longlist. <em>Sea of Poppies</em> would seem to be obvious choice, but I have suspicion that <em>A Fraction of the Whole</em> might just pip it in the judges&rsquo; eyes.&quot;</p><p>Literary agent A P Watt said it was &quot;delighted&quot; that that three of its authors were shortlisted. Sebastian Barry was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize in 2005 for<em> A Long Long Way</em>. Linda Grant is shortlisted for the first time, having won the Orange Prize in 2000. Philip Hensher is also shortlisted for the first time. All are represented by A P Watt.</p><p>Independent presses Atlantic and Faber make the shortlist, with Hachette having two titles, while Penguin and HarperCollins have once each. Of the shortlisted titles,<em> </em>Amitav Ghosh&#39;s <em>Sea of Poppies</em> has sold the best since the longlist announcement, with sales of 1,275 more than double that of its most popular competitor, Linda Grant&#39;s <em>The Clothes on Their Backs.</em></p><p>Hills now make Sebastian Barry their favourite at 2/1. &quot;We were convinced that the winner would be either Joseph O&#39;Neill or Salman Rushdie and are amazed that neither even made the shortlist. As a result it looks like a very open competition with everyone in with a chance,&quot; said William Hill spokesman Graham Sharpe.<br />&nbsp;</p><p>The shortlist: <br /><br /><em>The White Tiger</em> by Aravind Adiga (Atlantic)<br /><br /><em>The Secret Scripture</em> by Sebastian Barry (Faber)<br /><br /><em>Sea of Poppies</em> by Amitav Ghosh (John Murray)<br /><br /><em>The Clothes on Their Backs</em> by Linda Grant (Virago)<br /><br /><em>The Northern Clemency</em> by Philip Hensher (Fourth Estate)<br /><br /><em>A Fraction of the Whole </em>by Steve Toltz (Hamish Hamilton)</p>