The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Asian writer on Booker shortlist

London, Sept. 16 (Reuters): Women writers and first time novelists dominated the shortlist for the Booker Prize today with bookmakers divided on who would win one of the world’s most prestigious literary awards for fiction.

Canada’s Margaret Atwood, already a Booker winner three years ago, vied for favourite with first time novelist Monica Ali to land the £50,000 prize and achieve instant success in bestseller lists around the globe.

“This has been David’s year and not Goliath’s,” said literary critic John Carey, head of the judges who picked a shortlist of six for what invariably turns into an entertaining literary horse race every year.

“We have three first novels and only one big name left,” he said of the list after working through 117 books from Britain, Ireland and the Commonwealth.

Bookmaker William Hill made Atwood the 2-1 favourite for her science fiction saga Oryx and Crake, which Carey compared to George Orwell’s 1984 and Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World.

The other main bookmaker, Ladbrokes, picked as their 2-1 favourite Brick Lane by Monica Ali, who moved to Britain from Bangladesh when she was a baby and takes her birthplace as the setting for her debut novel.

British columnist Zoe Heller, who lives in New York, made the coveted last six with Notes on a Scandal about a schoolteacher who has an affair with an underage pupil.

The fourth woman in the list is Clare Morrall for Astonishing Splashes of Colour about a woman’s agony over childlessness.

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