An independent publisher from north Norfolk is vying for glory with some of the book world’s biggest names after seeing one of its novels shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize today.

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An independent publisher from north Norfolk is vying for glory with some of the book world’s biggest names after seeing one of its novels shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize this morning.

Salt Publishing, run by Chris and Jen Hamilton-Emery from their home in Cromer, is among three independent presses to make the shortlist thanks to its highly praised novel The Lighthouse, written by Alison Moore.

Her book is one of six in contention for the £50,000 literary prize, alongside early favourites Bring Up The Bodies by Hilary Mantel (published by Fourth Estate) and Umbrella by Will Self (Bloomsbury).

Mr Hamilton-Emery said: “It’s absolutely incredible. We have been going for 12 years and have never had anything like this - we have won prizes before but nothing on this scale. We were delighted when it was longlisted and making the shortlist is even better.

“Half the shortlist is independent presses and this shows that the independent sector is able to compete effectively with the ‘big six’ publishers.

“We knew it was a good book, and I think it’s a very good ‘Booker book’ - one that appeals to a broad range of readers, working as a very good story on one level and as a serious piece of literature on another level.”

The nominees were announced by chairman of the judging panel Sir Peter Stothard, editor of The Times Literary Supplement. Also among the figures on the judging panel are Downton Abbey actor Dan Stevens and historian and broadcaster Amanda Foreman.

The shortlist is:

The Garden Of Evening Mists, by Tan Twan Eng (published by Myrmidon Books)

Swimming Home, by Deborah Levy (And Other Stories/Faber & Faber)

Bring Up The Bodies, by Hilary Mantel (Fourth Estate)

The Lighthouse, by Alison Moore (Salt)

Umbrella, by Will Self (Bloomsbury)

Narcopolis, by Jeet Thayil (Faber & Faber)

The winner, to be announced on October 16, will receive a £50,000 prize, in addition to the £2,500 awarded to all shortlisted writers and an inevitable boost in sales for their work. Last year’s winner, The Sense Of An Ending by Julian Barnes, has sold more than 300,000 print editions in the UK.

Mr Hamilton-Emery said that Salt has already sold 6,000 copies of The Lighthouse and a further 40,000 copies would be in bookshops in the coming weeks.

Mrs Moore was born in Manchester and lives in Nottingham. Her novel is described as a psychological examination of loss and rejection centred on two characters: Futh, a newly divorced perfumier on a walking holiday and Ester, a German hotelier locked in a desperately unhappy marriage.

Sir Peter said of the list: “After re-reading an extraordinary longlist of 12, it was the pure power of prose that settled most debates.

“The judges agree that we have been very fortunate judges. This has been an exhilarating year for fiction. The strongest I would say for more than a decade.

“There are first novels from India and the East Midlands, small publishers from Newcastle, north Norfolk and High Wycombe alongside novels by Hilary Mantel and Will Self, two of the great established radicals of contemporary literature.”

Betting odds:

Bookmaker William Hill immediately installed Will Self as favourite to win the prize after finally being included by the Booker judges following a celebrated career.

He is being given odds of 7/4 to take the prize, with Mantel, whose book is a continuation of her life of Thomas Cromwell, second favourite at 2/1.

If she wins again, Mantel would be the first British writer to join an exclusive club, featuring South African-born JM Coetzee and Australian-born Peter Carey, who have won the Man Booker Prize for Fiction twice.

William Hill’s odds are:

7/4 Umbrella, by Will Self

2/1 Bring Up The Bodies, by Hilary Mantel

5/1 The Garden Of Evening Mists, by Tan Twang Eng

7/1 Swimming Home, by Deborah Levy

7/1 The Lighthouse, by Alison Moore

10/1 Narcopolis, by Jeet Thayil

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