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Rushdie favourite for best Booker Prize winner award

12th May 2008

Salman Rushdie is the favourite to win the Best of the Booker prize after his novel "Midnight's Children" was shortlisted Monday for the "greatest of the greatest" award.

Six books chosen from the 41 winners of the highly-regarded Booker Prize are up for the award.

The Booker Prize, one of the literary world's most prestigious awards, goes to the best work of fiction by an author from the Commonwealth or the Republic of Ireland.

"Midnight's Children", the bookmaker's favourite for the award, was Indian-born Rushdie's second novel and won the 1981 Booker Prize.

It also scooped the Booker of Bookers -- the only other time a celebratory award has been created for the prize -- in 1993.

The second favourite to win is South African-born author JM Coetzee. The 2003 Nobel Prize for Literature winner, who emigrated to Australia in 2002, is nominated for "Disgrace", which won the 1999 Booker.

The book is the most recent novel on the shortlist, while the oldest is "The Siege of Krishnapur" by the late British author JG Farrell, which won the Booker in 1973.

South African author Nadine Gordimer is shortlisted for "The Conservationist" (1974), while Australian author Peter Carey is nominated for "Oscar and Lucinda" (1988), the first of his two Booker prize winners.

"The Ghost Road", by British writer Pat Barker, a winner in 1995, is also on the shortlist, which was drawn up by a panel of judges.

The prize will be voted for by the public, with the winner announced at the Southbank Centre in London on July 10.

Judges chair Victoria Glendinning said selecting the shortlist was a tough task.

"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," she said.

"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."

Rushdie is the favourite to win at odds of 5-1, according to bookmakers William Hill, followed by Coetzee (10-1), Barker (20-1), Carey (25-1), Gordimer (40-1) and Farrell (80-1).

A total of 41 books have won the prize since it was launched in 1969, because the award was shared in 1974 and 1992. Contenders must have been published in the past year and originally written in English.

Booker Prize nomination all but guarantees worldwide readership and an upsurge in book sales.

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