George Saunders is bookmaker’s favorite to win the Man Booker Prize

George Saunders
(Chloe Aftel)

The winner of the Man Booker Prize, one of the world’s most prestigious literary awards, will be announced Tuesday afternoon, and American author George Saunders is the odds-on favorite to take it home.

The Guardian reports that Saunders’ “Lincoln in the Bardo,” a novel about Abraham Lincoln mourning the death of his young son in a graveyard filled with ghosts, is leading the pack of six finalists. Saunders is the 6:4 favorite to win the award, according to the British betting company Ladbrokes.

Should he win, he would be the second American to win the award, following Paul Beatty, who took home the prize last year for his novel “The Sellout.”

“The shortlist is still somewhat surprising, and punters’ money is pointing towards a victory for Saunders,” said Jessica Bridge, the public relations manager for Ladbrokes.


Ladbrokes gives Mohsin Hamid, the Pakistani-British author of “Exit West,” 7:2 odds to win the prize, with British graduate student and author Fiona Mozley close behind at 4:1 for her small-press novel “Elmet.”

The underdogs are American author Paul Auster for “4 3 2 1” and Scottish novelist Ali Smith for “Autumn,” both at 8:1, and American writer Emily Fridlund for her debut novel “History of Wolves,” at 10:1.

That half the authors on the shortlist are American is something of a surprise. Americans have only been eligible for the award since 2014, when the rules were changed to allow books written in English by authors from all countries. Before the change, only authors from members of the British Commonwealth and Zimbabwe were eligible for the award. The winner of the award, which will be announced at a ceremony in London, will take home a cash prize of $66,000.