Hilary Mantel and Will Self are head to head in the Man Booker Prize with their novels 'Bring Up The Bodies' and 'Umberella', respectively. With odds now stacked very heavily in Mantel's favour, at 1/50, it's clear who the bookies think are going to win. However, it has also been dubbed by William Hill (bookmakers) as what will be 'the closest finish ever'.
Mantel has won the Booker Prize before with the first in her Cromwell Trilogy, Wolf Hall. Will Self has never won the Booker Prize, although he has been shortlisted an impressive three times for the 'Bad Sex in Fiction Award'. According to Amazon Mantel's sales are also way above Self's, as she takes 36% of sales for the award nominees, whereas Alison Moore's 'The Lighthouse' is taking 20% and Self's is only taking 8%! However, Self's work spans far further than Mantel's, he has columns and contributes regularly to a variety of publications including The Times, The New York Times, The Observer and The London Review of Books, which all make him very qualified for the award.
With greater sales, and a Booker Prize already behind her it seems inevitable for Mantel to storm to victory. But, like all judges, there is always the temptation to surprise and delight and until the winner is officially announced. The prize not only brings a huge amount of prestige, but sales revenues go through the roof, and last time Mantel won her book sold over 500,000 extra copies. Plus, if Mantel wins, it will make her the first woman and the first Brit to ever win the award twice.
Peter Stothard, who is chairing the judging panel this year expressed his excitement to the BBC: "This has been an exhilarating year for fiction. The strongest I would say for more than a decade."Jeet Thayil, Alison Moore, Twan Eng and Deborah Levy are also nominated for the award but aren't making it into anyone's favourites to win the award.