The Booker Prize 2012 shortlist was announced today, with the early favorite being Hilary Mantel's "Bring up the Bodies," the sequel to her Booker Prize-winning "Wolf Hall," which took the award in 2009.
The shortlisted books are:
Tan Twan Eng, "The Garden of Evening Mists" (Myrmidon Books)
Deborah Levy, "Swimming Home" (And Other Stories/Faber & Faber)
Hilary Mantel, "Bring up the Bodies" (Fourth Estate)
Alison Moore, "The Lighthouse" (Salt)
Will Self, "Umbrella" (Bloomsbury)
Jeet Thayil, "Narcopolis" (Faber & Faber)
The Man Booker Prize, whose name includes the title of its principal sponsor alternative investment management company Man, is one of the best-known prizes in English language publishing. Open only to citizens of the United Kingdom, the Commonwealth and the Republic of Ireland, the jury, which changes each year, is usually made up of a mixture of book industry people and others including actors and politicians.
According to the Booker Prize's website, the winner of the 2012 prize will be announced at a dinner at London's Guildhall on Tuesday 16 October. Each of the six shortlisted writers is awarded £2,500 and a specially commissioned beautifully handbound edition of their book. The winner receives a further £50,000 - as well as a significant boost in sales.
Here's what you need to know about each:
"The Garden of Evening Mists" by Tan Twan Eng (Myrmidon Books)
Written by Malaysian author Eng, the book focuses on Yun Ling Teoh, the survivor of a Japanese wartime camp. She becomes the apprentice of an exiled Japanese gardener, in hopes that she can build a garden to commemorate her deceased sister in Kuala Lumpur.
"Swimming Home" by Deborah Levy (And Other Stories)
This book explores the depressed state of a group of stately tourists visiting the French Riviera, but does so in a light, funny manner. The introduction to this book is by Tom McCarthy, the acclaimed author of "C."
"Bring up the Bodies" by Hilary Mantel (Fourth Estate)
This is the sequel to Mantel's 2009 Booker winner "Wolf Hall." Both books chronicle the pitfalls of Anne Boleyn, with this book focusing on the conspiracies at the court of Henry VIII that brought about her downfall.
"The Lighthouse" by Alison Moore (Salt)
The entrant from the smallest publisher on the list, Alison Moore's book focuses on a middle-aged man who takes a trip to Germany but finds the hotel staff to be less than accommodating as he contemplates his mother's abandonment while embarking on a walking tour.
"Umbrella" by Will Self (Bloomsbury)
Will Self is a famous acerbic columnist in the UK, but his books haven't always been acclaimed by the literary establishment - in one previous story, a woman grew a penis, and in another, a male sportsman grew a vagina in the crook of his knee. In this more conventional tale, Zack Busner is a psychiatrist treating victims of a post-World War I sleeping sickness epidemic -- but is the disease biological or the result of the pressures of modernity?
"Narcopolis" by Jeet Thayil (Faber & Faber)
The only Indian author on the list, his book is set in a brothel in 1970s Bombay. It uses the setting to illustrate the addictions and perversions of human trafficking in India, contrasted with the beauty and hope found in films and churches.
Related on HuffPost: