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Last Updated: Tuesday, 15 August 2006, 11:17 GMT 12:17 UK
Mitchell tops Booker favourites
David Mitchell
David Mitchell was nominated for the Booker prize in 2001 and 2004
British author David Mitchell has been installed as the early favourite to win the Man Booker prize.

The author of rites-of-passage novel Black Swan Green is 5-1 favourite to win the prestigious literary award.

"He thoroughly deserves to win it after being robbed with Cloud Atlas two years ago," said Graham Sharpe, spokesman for bookmakers William Hill.

However, book chain Waterstone's said he would face stiff competition from Sarah Waters and Andrew O'Hagan.

"It's going to be very tight," said a spokesman for the company. "They're writers who've been picking up a huge amount of fans and critical acclaim over their relatively short careers.

"The Booker does like to pick up on that and reward that sort of writing."

'Critical judges'

Previous winners Peter Carey, Nadine Gordimer and Barry Unsworth are also on the 19-strong longlist.

Unsworth was a joint winner alongside Michael Ondaatje's The English Patient in 1992 with Sacred Hunger, while South African-born Gordimer shared the prize in 1974 with The Conservationist.

Sarah Waters
Waters was previously shortlisted for her 2002 novel Fingersmith
Australian Carey - who won in 1988 and 2001 - is second favourite at 6/1 for his novel Theft: A Love Story.

Waters' The Night Watch has a 7/1 chance of winning, with Unsworth's The Ruby In Her Navel rated at 8/1.

Howard Jacobson's Kalooki Nights has the fifth-best chance of winning at 10/1, according to William Hill.

Hermione Lee, chair of the Booker judges, said judging the entries was "emotional".

"We've tried to be careful and critical judges as well as being passionately involved," she said.

"We're delighted by the variety, the originality, the drama and craft, the human interest and the strong voices in this longlist."

The Booker shortlist will be published on 14 September and the winner will be announced on 10 October.

Irish writer John Banville won the award last year for The Sea.

Peter Carey
Carey last won the prize for his novel True History of the Kelly Gang
However, his follow-up novel - a thriller written under the pseudonym Benjamin Black - did not make the longlist.

The Waterstone's spokesman also expressed surprise that other previous winners like DBC Pierre and Roddy Doyle were excluded.

He also said it was "a great shame" that Mark Haddon, author of Whitbread winner The Curious Incident Of The Dog in the Night-Time, did not make the longlist with his new work, A Spot of Bother.

The 19 novels on this year's longlist are:

  • Peter Carey - Theft: A Love Story
  • Kiran Desai - The Inheritance of Loss
  • Robert Edric - Gathering the Water
  • Nadine Gordimer - Get a Life
  • Kate Grenville - The Secret River
  • MJ Hyland - Carry Me Down
  • Howard Jacobson - Kalooki Nights
  • James Lasdun - Seven Lies
  • Mary Lawson - The Other Side of the Bridge
  • Jon McGregor - So Many Ways to Begin
  • Hisham Matar - In the Country of Men
  • Claire Messud - The Emperor's Children
  • David Mitchell - Black Swan Green
  • Naeem Murr - The Perfect Man
  • Andrew O'Hagan - Be Near Me
  • James Robertson - The Testament of Gideon Mack
  • Edward St Aubyn - Mother's Milk
  • Barry Unsworth - The Ruby in her Navel
  • Sarah Waters - The Night Watch




    SEE ALSO
    Carey up for Booker prize again
    14 Aug 06 |  Entertainment
    Booker judge gives novel advice
    14 Aug 06 |  Entertainment
    Booker Prize strikes up 5m deal
    23 Mar 06 |  Entertainment
    Actress Shaw joins Booker panel
    10 Mar 06 |  Entertainment
    Hermione Lee chairs Booker judges
    13 Feb 06 |  Entertainment
    Banville to write under pseudonym
    21 Oct 05 |  Entertainment

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