Two well-known authors remain from the longlist, of whom one would be a surprising winner and the other a fitting one
Back in July the Booker judges announced a wide-ranging and defiantly highbrow longlist that wasn't afraid to ignore big names. Now we have a shortlist that, at a time of seismic change in the industry, rewards tiny publishers running on enthusiasm and strong coffee and, true to form, only two well-known authors remain.
Hilary Mantel's Bring Up the Bodies is a sequel of sorts to her 2009 Booker winner Wolf Hall, and Will Self's Umbrella is a bravura stream-of-consciousness tour through 20th-century history and psychiatry.
The debut novels are Jeet Thayil's Narcopolis, a hallucinatory portrait of opium smokers in Old Bombay, and Alison Moore's The Lighthouse, an unsettling tale of a man and his memories on a walking holiday.
The last two authors on the list, if unfamiliar, are not new: Tan Twang Eng, who conjures a Japanese garden in Malaya in The Garden of Evening Mists, has been longlisted before; and Deborah Levy, whose Swimming Home shows the middle classes falling apart on the French Riviera, has an impressive back catalogue.
The longlist was rich in comic exuberance ...