This year's Booker Prize shortlist: The perpetually moderately beloved two-time winner Peter Carey's Parrot and Olivier in America; the dull Damon Galgut's In a Strange Room; Remainder author and cult hero Tom McCarthy, for his new C (which we will be reviewing this fall); the Irish-Canadian Emma Donoghue, for Room, "the story of a boy and his mother imprisoned in a tiny room for years"; The Long Song, by Andrea Levy, "about the last years of slavery in Jamaica"; and The Finkler Question, by Howard Jacobson, "a cerebral comedy about grief and Anglo-Jewishness".
The English bookkeeper William Hill has installed the hip McCarthy as the 2/1 favorite for the prize. Donoghue and Galgut are both 3/1 (with William Hill reporting that someone's already placed four hundred quid on Galgut, "the largest single bet on the prize 'for a few years'"). Carey's at 5/1, Levy's at 7/1 and Jacobson's at 8/1. The opportunity for gambling is, as ever, an ingenious way of keeping literary fiction at the forefront of the public consciousness.