Man Booker Prize pits McEwan against novices

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The £50,000 Man Booker Prize shortlist has been revealed, with Ian McEwan up against five little-known writers, one of whom has sold just 231 copies of his book.

McEwan’s On Chesil Beach will compete with Darkmans by Nicola Barker, The Gatheing by Anne Enright, The Reluctant Fundamentalist by Mohsin Hamid, Mister Pip by Lloyd Jones and Indra Sinha’s Animal’s People.

Sinha’s novel, which is based on the Bhopal chemical plant explosion, has sold just 231 copies in the UK – even 10 days after it was long-listed.

Receiving global recognition as his book Atonement is plugged at the Venice Film Festival by stars Keira Knightley and James McAvoy, McEwan is in the running to win the prize twice.

His novel Amsterdam was declared winner in 1998.

The Man Booker administrator, Ion Trewin, suggested McEwan’s popularity will not automatically determine the author as the winner.

“One of the joys of this prize is identifying talent for the future,” he said.

“It is a strong list and if we had six well-known names every year we would be criticised for not encouraging new talent.

“And just because you are a well-known name, it does not mean that you produce your best work every year.”

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