A brief diversion away from politics in the shape of the 2014 Booker Prize betting.
With the shortlist announced today, Ladbrokes have odds on the final six:
2/1 Neel Mukherjee – The Lives Of Others
3/1 Ali Smith – How to be both
4/1 Howard Jacobson – J
5/1 Richard Flanagan – The Narrow Road To The Deep North
6/1 Karen Jay Fowler – We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves
12/1 Joshua Ferris – To Rise Again At A Decent Hour
The betting did a good job of working out which of the longlisted twelve would make the cut; Five of the top six in the market made it – David Mitchell was the only one to miss out. He has failed to win twice before when on the short list and we now make it 3/1 that he manages to win in the future.
The only outsider to sneak in was Joshua Ferris – we haven’t taking a single bet on him yet so literary punters are obviously not taken with his chances. Ferris and Fowler are the two Americans left and the combined odds make it about a 7/2 chance that the prize goes across the Atlantic in the first year that US authors have been eligible.
People often ask how we come up with the odds on this sort of thing. I’ll be frank; I haven’t read any of the books on the short list. I read and enjoyed David Mitchell’s latest but, typically, that failed to get off the long list. Even if I had read all of these novels, it’s not clear that would help inform the odds, as my opinion on the relative merits of the books is basically irrelevant. So we have a look at what the experts in the media are saying, try to see what kind of thing has won in the past, and then take our best guess. From then on the market takes over and the odds move as the money comes in on the various contenders.