Fresh faces crowd Rushdie out from Booker shortlist

Fancied Salman Rushdie failed to make the 2008 Man Booker Prize shortlist for literature announced on Tuesday, but Amitav Ghosh and debutant Aravind Adiga stepped in to fill the Indian shoes.

Ghosh’s widely-acclaimed “Sea of Poppies” and Adiga’s “The White Tiger” pipped Rushdie’s “The Enchantress of Florence” to make the six novels in a shortlist full of fresh faces.

The list upset bookies’ favourites but was described by a leading bookseller as “delightfully unpredictable”.
Adiga and another first-time novelist, Steve Toltz, survived the cull of the longlist of 13 as veteran Rushdie joined John Booker – another previous winner – to face the judges’ chop.

On a torrid Tuesday for decorated scribes, Sebastian Barry was the only previously shortlisted novelist to make the 2008 list.

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The Man Booker Prize 2008 shortlisted novels are: Aravind Adiga (“The White Tiger”), Sebastian Barry (“The Secret Scripture”), Amitav Ghosh (“Sea of Poppies”), Linda Grant (“The Clothes on Their Backs”), Philip Hensher (“The Northern Clemency”) and Steve Toltz (“A Fraction of the Whole”).

Jonathan Ruppin of Foyles, Britain’s largest bookstore, said: “The shortlist has turned out to be as delightfully unpredictable as the longlist. ‘Sea of Poppies’ would seem to be obvious choice, but I have suspicion that ‘A Fraction of the Whole’ might just pip it in the judges’ eyes.”

Bookmaker Ladbrokes’ frontrunner was Rushdie at 4/1, with William Hill tipping Joseph O’Neill at 7/2. The two authors were also the bestselling longlisted books, the trade magazine The Bookseller reported on Tuesday.

Hill now make Sebastian Barry their favourite at 2/1.

“We were convinced that the winner would be either Joseph O’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,” a spokesman for William Hill said.

Linda Grant, winner of the Orange Prize for Fiction in 2000 and longlisted for the Booker Prize in 2002, was the only female author to make the shortlist. Philip Hensher, longlisted for the Booker Prize in 2002 and a Booker judge joined her in 2001.

The winner, who will take away a prize of 50,000 pounds, will be announced October 14.

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