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Weekly Roundup: Last chance to place your bets on who will win the 2012 Man Booker Prize

Weekly Roundup: Last chance to place your bets on who will win the 2012 Man Booker Prize

For punters out there who read odds as closely as they read books there is still time to place a last-minute bet before the announcement of this year's Man Booker Prize winner next Tuesday. The best odds quoted by William Hill are for Jeet Thayil at 10/1, the most parsimonious for Hilary Mantel at 2/1.


In writing about his new book, The Missing Ink: The Lost Art of Handwriting and Why it Still Matters, Philip Hensher (a Man Booker judge in 2001 and a shortlisted author in 2005) reveals a curious benefit of concerted pen use: it helps him tell left from right. “On a finger of my right hand, just on the joint, there is a callus which has been there for 40 years, where my pen rests. I used to call it 'my carbuncle'. 'Turn right' someone would say, and I would feel the hard little lump, like a leather pad, ink-stained, which showed what side that was on.”


What might be called the Man Booker's little sister prize, the Orange, looked to be about to lose its zest when it was announced last year that the mobile phone company was no longer sponsoring it. Happily – for those who like to see good fiction rewarded – the prize continues thanks to the generosity of various private benefactors. It should be just as juicy under its less pithy name, The Women's Prize for Fiction.

Howard Jacobson (Man Booker winner 2010) in the Guardian revealed what he used to say to people who don't believe literature can be redemptive: “To those who found that idea fanciful I would put the question: when were you last mugged on the Underground by someone carrying Middlemarch in his pocket?”