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Last Updated: Wednesday, 8 October, 2003, 11:02 GMT 12:02 UK
Booker judges 'know favourite'
By Chris Heard
BBC News Online entertainment staff

DJ Taylor
Mr Taylor said bookmakers' odds were "speculative"
Booker Prize judges have a "favourite" novel in mind for this year's award on Tuesday, one of the panel has said.

DJ Taylor said the five judges had already reached broad agreement on the quality of the six shortlisted books.

The list contains works by Monica Ali, Margaret Atwood, DBC Pierre, Damon Galgut, Clare Morrall and Zoe Heller.

Mr Taylor, a novelist, biographer and literary critic, said: "Of course I can't give anything away but there is a favourite."

"It will be interesting to see if people revise their opinions," he added.

I would be surprised if there's much more deliberating
DJ Taylor
Booker judge
Bookmakers Ladbrokes have made Ali 13/8 favourite for her brick novel Brick Lane, about life in east London.

Atwood is second favourite on 3/1, followed by Pierre at 5/1, Galgut (6/1), Morrall (7/1) and Heller (8/1).

However, Mr Taylor said the bookmakers' odds were based purely on speculation.

"The bookies have always been completely wrong," he said.

"We have already stated our opinions twice, and I can't see people's opinions changing that much, so I would be surprised if there's much more deliberating."

Giant killers

This year's shortlist includes more debut novels and female authors than any other in the prize's history.

It has been described as "giant killers' year" by chairman of the judges, Professor John Carey.

To the surprise of some critics, the shortlist excluded Nobel literature prize winner JM Coetzee. It is also without high-profile authors such as Martin Amis and Melvyn Bragg.

Mr Taylor praised the inclusion of so many regional writers on this year's 23-strong "longlist" which preceded the final six.


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