Julian Barnes remains the favourite to win Britain's prestigious Man Booker Prize for literature after his The Sense of an Ending was nominated on the shortlist announced today.
Debut novelists Stephen Kelman and AD Miller are also among the six finalists, made up of four Britons and two Canadians. Barnes, 65, has been shortlisted three times before for Flaubert's Parrot (1984), England, England (1998) and Arthur and George (2005).
The three other Britons on the shortlist are Kelman, for Pigeon English, Miller, for Snowdrops, and Carol Birch, for her novel Jamrach's Menagerie. The two Canadian nominees are Patrick deWitt, for The Sisters Brothers, and Esi Edugyan, shortlisted for Half Blood Blues.
They were chosen from a longlist of 13. Former winner Alan Hollinghurst, who won the Booker in 2004 with The Line of Beauty, was among those who missed the cut, despite having been considered the second-favourite.
One of the highest-profile awards in English language literature, the Dh294,492 annual Booker Prize is awarded for the best work of fiction by an author from the Commonwealth or the Republic of Ireland.
Contenders must have been published in the past year and originally written in English. The prize all but guarantees an upsurge in book sales and worldwide readership.
Stella Rimington, the former director-general of Britain's MI5 domestic security agency and an author herself, is chairing the panel of five judges. "Inevitably it was hard to whittle down the longlist to six titles," she said. "We were sorry to lose some great books. But when push came to shove, we quickly agreed that these six very different titles were the best."
Last year's prize was won by Howard Jacobson for The Finkler Question, which has sold more than 250,000 copies in Britain. The winner will be announced on October 18 at a dinner at London's Guildhall.
Shortlist for the 2011 Booker Prize:
The Sense of an Ending by Julian Barnes
Jamrach's Menagerie by Carol Birch
The Sisters Brothers by Patrick deWitt
Half Blood Blues by Esi Edugyan
Pigeon English by Stephen Kelman
Snowdrops by AD Miller