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Will McEwan’s New Book Be Eligible for the Booker?

Booktrade.info reports that William Hill, the bookmakers famous for placing odds on those eligible to win the Booker Prize, are turning away those who want to bet early on Ian McEwan‘s ON CHESIL BEACH because no one seems to know whether the book is eligible for the Prize, or even whether it will be submitted for it. “McEwan’s books are always prominent contenders for the prize, and I was all set to make his just published ON CHESIL BEACH the 4/1 favourite to win the 2007 Prize when doubts were raised about its eligibility.’ said William Hill spokesman Graham Sharpe. “There is some doubt about whether it is a novel or a novella. The latter are apparently banned by the Booker, although there seems to be no definition as to what makes a novella a novel or vice versa. We have asked the publishers whether they will actually submit the book, and they don’t seem to know,” said Sharpe. “This has meant that I have already had to turn away people wanting to bet on the book, on the grounds that we do not know whether it will be a ‘runner’. In a quarter of a century of betting on the Booker I cannot remember a similar problem cropping up.”

But Elizabeth Hand points out that the so-called problem is quite fixable. “A novel is usually considered to be a work over 40,000 words in length,” she explains, “and seems like a word count
would resolve the issue.”

In other McEwan-related news, the author is to send back a handful of pebbles he admitted taking from the titular protected beach in Dorset after his admission in a recent interview subjected him to a possible 2,000 pound fine. “I was not aware of having committed a crime, having not seen any signs on Chesil Beach,” McEwan said in a statement. “Chesil Beach is a uniquely beautiful place and I’m delighted to return the handful of small pieces of shingle to it.”

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