Associate Professor Philip Hensher has been shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize, the English-speaking world's most important literary award.

Exeter English academic makes Booker Prize shortlist

A University of Exeter academic has been shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize, the English-speaking world's most important literary award.

Associate Professor Philip Hensher, who works in the University’s Department of English, was shortlisted for his novel The Northern Clemency, which is published by Fourth Estate.

Six books have been shortlisted for the Prize and the winner will be announced on Tuesday 14 October.

A Booker judge himself in 2001, Philip Hensher has written five novels, Other Lulus, Kitchen Venom which won the Somerset Maugham Award, Pleasured, the Booker-longlisted The Mulberry Empire (in 2002) and The Fit, as well as a collection of short stories, The Bedroom of the Mister's Wife. He is a columnist for The Independent, arts critic for The Spectator and a Granta Best of Young British Novelist.

Philip Hensher said: ‘Northern Clemency is the story of two families in Sheffield between 1974 and 1994, and in a larger sense about the changes in English society over that period. It's principally about the middle-class experience of political upheaval, but mostly about a group of characters who I grew to know and love, as I hope the reader will. Though it isn't an autobiographical novel, the contours of the story echo quite a lot of my own family's story, and I think what I found both most challenging AND enjoyable was to try to recapture the texture of life in the recent past, and to set out something which was very familiar to me in a way that would be fresh and detailed for the reader, who might not be familiar with the setting (I just heard today that it's being translated into Romanian, for instance).

He added: I'm obviously very pleased that the panel have enjoyed it. These nominations help internationally, and increasingly with sales. In more general terms, it means a lot to a publisher and the very many people who work on a book of this sort, who can rightly feel that recognition of this sort reflects on their hard work as well as the author's - in particular, on the editorial process which, in this case, undertook a large number of refinements to the serious improvement of the manuscript.’

The other shortlisted novelists are: Aravind Adiga, Sebastian Barry, Amitav Ghosh, Linda Grant, and Steve Toltz. The shortlist was announced by the chair of judges, Michael Portillo, at a press conference at Man Group plc offices in London on 9 September.

The winner receives £50,000 and can look forward to greatly increased sales and worldwide recognition. Each of the six shortlisted authors, including the winner, receives £2,500 and a designer bound edition of their own book.

Date: 10 September 2008