British novelist Hilary Mantel has become the betting favorite in the odds for the 2009 Booker Prize, with the popularity of her book Wolf Hall propelling her to 3.00 outright favoritism at Ladbrokes.
South African J.M. Coetzee, who won the award previously in 1983 and 1999, was installed as favorite to win it a third time after his fictionalized memoir Summertime was announced as one of the 13 books on the longlist - or Man Booker Dozen - two weeks ago, but he has since slipped to equal-third in the odds at 8.00.
Colm Toibin is second favorite at 6.00 for his work Brooklyn, while Sarah Waters appears to be the other strong contender for her work The Little Stranger. She is level with Coetzee at 8.00.
The surprise emergence of Mantel contradicts initial Ladbrokes predictions - a spokesman was quoted by British newspaper The Guardian two weeks ago as saying Coetzee's reputation would have literary punters "quick to back the author's bid to create history."
To celebrate the longlist announcement the Fourth Plinth in Trafalgar Square, London will see book lover Graham Fudger on Tuesday, 11 August at 11am reading extracts from the prize's 13 longlist titles.
One of each of the books will be given away to the public.
Man Booker Prize
The Man Booker Prize for Fiction, or simply the Booker Prize, is a literary award given each year for the best original full-length novel, written in English, by a citizen of a Commonwealth country or Ireland. In the past it has been won by such big names as India's Salman Rushdie (Midnight's Children, 1981), Australia's Thomas Keneally (Schindler's Ark, 1982) and India's Arundhati Roy (The God of Small Things, 1997).
This year's prize has seen active betting so far, largely for the high profile author Coetzee and his celebrated chances to win for an unprecedented, third time.
The 2009 winner will be announced on Sunday September 6.