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The Best of the Booker shortlist announced

The Best of the Booker shortlist announced

Public to choose the winner for The Best of the Booker

Nevermind the local elections; the only vote that counts this summer is for The Best of the Booker. Pat Barker, Peter Carey, JM Coetzee, J G Farrell, Nadine Gordimer and Salman Rushdie are all in the running to win this one-off award, to celebrate the 40th anniversary of The Booker Prize.

As the shortlist is announced today, Monday 12 May, polling opens to the public to find the overall winner. Through online partnerships with national and international media, with libraries, reading groups and book retailers, millions of people across the globe have the opportunity of registering their votes for their favourite book from the shortlist.

The six shortlisted books, chosen from the list of 41 Booker Prize and Man Booker Prize winners, are:

Pat Barker's The Ghost Road (1995, Viking; paperback Penguin)

Peter Carey's Oscar and Lucinda (1988, Faber & Faber; paperback Faber)

JM Coetzee's Disgrace (1999, Secker & Warburg; paperback Vintage)

JG Farrell's The Seige of Krishnapur (1973, Weidenfeld & Nicolson, paperback Phoenix)

Nadine Gordimer's The Conservationist (1974, Cape; paperback Bloomsbury)

Salman Rushdie's Midnight's Children (1981, Cape; paperback Vintage)

The only time that a celebratory award has previously been created for ‘the Booker' was in 1993 - the 25th anniversary - when Salman Rushdie won the Booker of Bookers with Midnight's Children. Now 15 years on, William Hill has offered Rushdie 6/4 odds as the favourite to win again. Second favourite is Pat Barker at 3/1, followed by Peter Carey (4/1) and JM Coetzee at 5/1, Nadine Gordimer (8/1) and JG Farrell (10/1).

The six books span three decades - the earliest winner being JG Farrell in 1973, and the most recent, JM Coetzee in 1999. Winning The Best of the Booker could mean a hat-trick for either Coetzee or Peter Carey who are the only two writers to have won the Booker Prize twice.

The shortlist was selected by a panel of judges - the biographer, novelist and critic Victoria Glendinning, (Chair); writer and broadcaster Mariella Frostrup, and John Mullan, Professor of English at University College, London.

The overall winner of The Best of the Booker will be announced as part of the London Literature Festival at the Southbank Centre on 10 July where the winner will be awarded a custom-made trophy.

Votes can be registered via the Man Booker Prize website -, and via SMS text messaging.

Voters need to text TBOTB to 81025 followed by the letter corresponding to their chosen title:

A for Pat Barker's The Ghost Road;

B for Peter Carey's Oscar and Lucinda;

C for JM Coetzee's Disgrace

D for JG Farrell's The Seige of Krishnapur

E for Nadine Gordimer's The Conservationist

F for Salman Rushdie's Midnight's Children.

Users can unsubscribe at anytime by texting Stop TBOTB to 81025

Readers have until midday on 8 July to vote for the best novel to have won the prize since it was first awarded on 22 April 1969.

Text messages are charged at 25p along with standard network charges. All votes received via SMS after midday on 8 July may still be charged by their network.

Victoria Glendinning comments: 'It was a great experience, revisiting all the Booker and Man Booker Prize winners, and very tough arriving at the shortlist - but we really feel that the six novels we picked represent the best fiction-writing of the past 40 years and that each one of them will stand the test of time. As to which of the six is the most important, and the most enjoyable, the Best of Booker - that is up to the readers to decide.'

Other celebrations to mark the anniversary include an exhibition in the autumn at the V&A telling the visual story of the prize over its 40 years, and The Booker at the Movies, a season in June at the Institute of Contemporary Arts featuring films from Booker prize-winning books and authors. Also for the anniversary, The British Council is working towards the creation of an online collection of contemporary British literature. The Council is in negotiation with publishers to include former winners of the Booker Prize and Man Booker Prize as e-books for a pilot project.

For further information contact:

Eleanor Hutchins / Jane Acton eleanor/

020 7631 2666

The Best of the Booker shortlist

What the critics said

Pat Barker's The Ghost Road

‘A powerful and deeply moving novel...forming one of the most distinguished works of contemporary fiction'.

Sunday Times

Peter Carey's Oscar and Lucinda

Oscar and Lucinda is a little like the best Australian movie ever made, except that it is a magnificent novel in its own right - Carey's finest achievement to date'.

Daily Telegraph

JM Coetzee's Disgrace

‘A masterpiece....perhaps the best novel to carry off the Booker in a decade'.

The Independent

Nadine Gordimer's The Conservationist

‘If one were never to read any other literature about South Africa, Gordimer's work would be enough...As a Literary keeper of records, she has no peer'.

Sunday Times

JG Farrell's The Seige of Krishnapur

‘For a novel to be witty is one thing, to tell a good story is another, to be serious is yet another, but to be all three is surely enough to make it a masterpiece'.

New Statesman

Salman Rushdie's Midnight's Children

‘One of the most important books to come out of the English-speaking world in this generation'.

New York, Review of Books

The Best of the Booker Judges

* Victoria Glendinning is a biographer, critic, broadcaster and novelist. She has written biographies of Elizabeth Bowen, Edith Sitwell (which won both the James Tait Black Award and the Duff Cooper Prize), Vita Sackville-West (Whitbread Prize for Biography), Rebecca West, Anthony Trollope (Whitbread Prize for Biography), Leonard Woolf and a biographical book about Jonathan Swift. She has published three novels, The Grown-Ups, Electricity, and Flight. Her next publication will be Love's Civil War, an edition of the love-letters of Anglo-Irish novelist Elizabeth Bowen.

* Victoria was Chair of Judges for The Booker Prize in 1992 and is a member of the Man Booker Prize Advisory Committee. She is a Vice-president of the English Centre of PEN, a Fellow and Vice-president of the Royal Society of Literature, and is on the Council of the Society of Authors. She has been awarded a CBE, and has four Honorary Doctorates, from the universities of Southampton, Ulster and York, and from Trinity College, Dublin.

She has four sons, seven grandchildren and lives in Somerset with her third husband Kevin O'Sullivan and two cats.

* Mariella Frostrup is a leading journalist and broadcaster. Defying any attempt to pigeonhole her skills and talents, Mariella has made her mark on a wide variety of programmes. In a fifteen-year television career she has continued to impress both audiences and critics with her friendly, accessible and intelligent screen presence. Her projects run the gamut from current affairs (Panorama, Question Time and Backlash) to movies and the arts.

Mariella presents The Book Show for Sky Arts and Open Book for BBC Radio 4. She combines her television and radio career with that of a prolific journalist. She is currently the film critic for Harpers and Queen and has a weekly dilemma column in The Observer Magazine, for which she also writes major interviews.

Mariella is a respected arts critic and has sat on the judging panels of various awards including the Man Booker Prize in 2000.

* John Mullan is Professor of English at University College London. He is the author of the newly published Anonymity. A Secret History of English Literature (Faber and Faber) and How Novels Work (OUP). He has published widely on eighteenth- and nineteenth-century literature. He is a broadcaster and journalist as well as an academic, and writes a weekly column on contemporary fiction for the Guardian.

Notes to editors

* The Booker Prize for Fiction was first awarded in 1969, and Man Group plc was announced as the sponsor of the prize in April 2002, with a five year extension agreed in 2006.

* For details of the shortlisted books and a full history of the prize including all previous winners, shortlisted authors and judges visit the website: The site features the rules of entry, background information and breaking news and is the quickest way for the prize's worldwide audience to access information.

The site, which incorporates a new look for the 40th anniversary, is rapidly becoming a key reference for contemporary fiction. It includes Perspective, an online magazine, featuring Q&A interviews, written pieces and a Literary Calendar.

* 41 authors have won the prize since it launched in 1969 because in 1974 and 1992 it was shared between two winners. From 1993 onwards the rules stipulated that there could only be one winner each year.

* The Advisory Committee, which advises on any changes to the rules and on the selection of the judges, represents all sides of the book world. Its members are: Ion Trewin (Administrator, Man Booker Prizes); Richard Cable, publisher; Mark Chilton, Company Secretary, Booker Ltd; Peter Clarke, Chief Executive, Man Group plc; Jonathan Douglas, Director of the National Literacy Trust; Victoria Glendinning, writer; Basil Comely, BBC TV; Derek Johns, literary agent; Gerry Johnson, Managing Director, Waterstone's; Nigel Newton, publisher; Fiammetta Rocco, literary editor, The Economist (Man Booker International Prize administrator); Eve Smith (Company Secretary, the Booker Prize Foundation); Robert Topping, Topping & Company Booksellers and Erica Wagner, literary editor, The Times

* The Booker Prize Foundation is a registered charity (no 1090049) which, since 2002, has been responsible for the award of the prize. The trustees of the Booker Prize Foundation are former Chairman of Booker plc, Jonathan Taylor CBE (Chair); Lord Baker of Dorking CH; former Man Booker Prize administrator, Martyn Goff CBE; playwright and President of the Royal Literary Fund, Ronald Harwood CBE; former Chair of the British Council, Baroness Kennedy QC; writer, Baroness Neuberger DBE; MEP Baroness Nicholson of Winterbourne; and former Finance Director of Rentokil plc, Christopher Pearce

* Man Group plc is a leading global provider of alternative investment products and solutions for private and institutional investors worldwide, designed to deliver absolute returns with low correlation to equity and bond market benchmarks. Man has a 20-year track record in this field supported by strong product development and structuring skills, and an extensive investor service and global distribution network. The Group employs 1,600 people in 13 countries, with key centres in London and Pfäffikon (Switzerland), and offices in Chicago, Dubai, Hong Kong, Montevideo, Nassau, New York, Singapore, Sydney, Tokyo and Toronto. Man Group plc is listed on the London Stock Exchange (EMG) and is a constituent of the FTSE 100 Index. Further information on the Man Group can be found at and

* Booker is the UK's leading food wholesaler with over 170 branches nationwide. It serves over 350,000 independent businesses.