Odds on Man Booker winner

Updated on Sep 11, 2008 07:03 PM IST

Amitav Ghosh’s Sea of Poppies and Aravind Adiga’s The White Tiger feature on top in many bookies’ lists.

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Hindustan Times | ByGirija Duggal

It’s time to place the chips. With the announcement of the Man Booker Prize 2008 shortlist, bookmakers in Britain have gone into prediction mode to declare their favourite for this year’s coveted literary prize. And Amitav Ghosh’s Sea of Poppies and Aravind Adiga’s The White Tiger feature on top in many bookies’ lists.

At the time of going to press, Amitav Ghosh led the pack at bookmakers Bet 365 and Paddy Power with odds of 13/8 and 7/4, respectively, while Adiga was a distant runner up at 13/2 and 6.

Conversely, one of Britain’s biggest betting houses, Ladbrokes, declared Adiga as their top choice.

It’s always a game of cat and mouse where betting is concerned — before the shortlist was declared, Salman Rushdie’s The Enchantress of Florence was a hot favourite with many bookies, who have since had to re-evaluate the odds. “We were convinced that the winner would be either Joseph O’Neill or Salman Rushdie,” betting giant William Hill declared in a statement. “As a result it looks like a very open competition with everyone in with a chance.” They have now placed Sebastian Barry as their favourite to win.

Bookmakers are not the only ones declaring their favourites. Publishers in India are in on the game, too. Hachette MD Thomas Abraham cites Ghosh as a favourite because, “Sea of Poppies was one of my last acquisitions before I left Penguin. So sentimentally, I’m rooting for him.”

Penguin India publisher Ravi Singh’s choice is not unexpected either, but he makes sure to point out that it’s not merely because Ghosh has been published by them. “He deserves to win the Booker. This is an epic book, not the kind that lasts a year or two; it’s probably one of the greatest.”

Aravind Adiga is the choice for Wisdom Tree’s Shobit Arya. “I’m always with the underdog.” But he adds, “Ghosh would be the general favourite, and in all probability he is the one who’ll get it.”

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