Sea of Fresh Faces as Rushdie Fails Booker Shortlist

By Dipankar De Sarkar, IANS,

London : Fancied Salman Rushdie failed to make the 2008 Man Booker Prize shortlist for literature announced Tuesday, but Amitav Ghosh and debutant Aravind Adiga stepped in to fill the Indian shoes.

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Ghosh’s widely-acclaimed Sea of Poppies and Adiga’s The White Tiger beat Rushdie’s The Enchantress of Florence to make the six novels in a shortlist full of fresh faces.

Adiga and another first-time novelist, Steve Toltz, survived the cull of the longlist of 13 as veteran Rushdie joined John Booker – another previous winner – to face the judges’ chop.

On a torrid Tuesday for some decorated scribes, Sebastian Barry was the only previously shortlisted novelist to make the 2008 shortlist.

Linda Grant, winner of the Orange Prize for Fiction in 2000 and longlisted
for the Booker Prize in 2002, was the only female author to make the shortlist. She was joined by Philip Hensher, longlisted for the Booker Prize in 2002 and a Booker judge in 2001.

The Man Booker Prize 2008 shortlisted novels are: Aravind Adiga (The White Tiger), Sebastian Barry (The Secret Scripture), Amitav Ghosh (Sea of Poppies), Linda Grant (The Clothes on Their Backs), Philip Hensher (The Northern Clemency) and Steve Toltz (A Fraction of the Whole).

Broadcaster and former minister Michael Portillo, Chair of judges, said: “These novels are intensely readable, each of them an extraordinary example of imagination and narrative. These fine page-turning stories nonetheless raise highly thought-provoking ideas and issues. These books are in every case both ambitious and approachable.”

The judges – Portillo, Granta editor Alex Clark, novelist Louise Doughty, Ottakar’s bookshop founder James Heneage and popular broadcaster Hardeep Singh Kohli – read over 112 books before whittling down the list to the Man Booker Dozen (13 titles) and then again to the shortlist.

The winner, who will take away a prize of 50,000 pounds, will be announced October 14.