Authors Will Self and Hilary Mantel are neck and neck to win the prestigious Man Booker Prize for fiction on Tuesday evening, according to bookmakers’ odds.
Self is shortlisted for the first time for Umbrella, about an epidemic of encephalitis lethargica after World War I which killed almost a million people. Previous winner Mantel is nominated for Bring Up the Bodies, the second book in her fictional Thomas Cromwell trilogy.
Bookies William Hill said it would be the closest finish ever. Its most recent odds for Mantel are 6/4, making her the narrow favourite over Self at 2/1. But Ladbrokes place Self as the favourite at 6/4, ahead of Mantel at 9/4.
Other contenders include Indian poet Jeet Thayil with his debut Narcopolis. Tan Twan Eng, who was born in Malaysia, has made the shortlist with his second novel, The Garden of Evening Mists. The book is set in the mountains of central Malaya during the pre-independence turmoil of the 1950s. Alison Moore’s The Lighthouse follows the journey of a middle-aged man who goes to Germany for a walking holiday after his marriage collapses but finds the trip brings back difficult memories. Via Will Self and Hilary Mantel are Booker Prize favourites.