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Hilary Mantel: an early Booker favourite

Since being longlisted last week for the 2009 Man Booker Prize, British novelist Hilary Mantel has gone from being a relative outsider on a star-studded list to the overwhelming favourite to take home the £50,000 prize, according to bookies in the U.K. From the Guardian:

The odds on Mantel gaining the award have been slashed with 95% of all bets placed on her novel alone and the value of those bets rising tenfold, according to bookmakers. William Hill said it had “never seen a betting pattern like it,” after a spate of bets made Wolf Hall “the only one in the running for the punters.” A spokesman for the bookmakers, which over the weekend cut the odds on the novel winning from 12-1 to 2-1, said: “It’s almost like an unspoken psychic rumour has gone round that this will be Hilary Mantel’s year. We’ll lose a five-figure sum if the support continues. It is as though a tip has gone around the literary world telling everyone that Mantel is a certainty.”

The contest is notoriously difficult to call and betting does not usually heat up until the shortlist of contenders is announced in September, the spokesman added.

But hundreds of people were placing bets of up to £50 on the 57-year-old novelist from Glossop, Derbyshire, this year, just days after the longlist of 13 books was chosen from the 132 potential contenders.