The shortlist for Britain’s most prestigious literary award, the Man Booker Prize, was announced Tuesday in London. Last year, the judges were criticized for favoring books that were “merely” popular or enjoyable. Predictably, this year they’ve swung in the other direction, passing over novels from such big names as John Banville, Pat Barker, Howard Jacobson, John Lanchester, Ian McEwan, J.K. Rowling and Zadie Smith. Three of the finalists are from small presses; three aren’t yet available in the United States, although you can download one of them as an e-book. The only title most American readers are likely to recognize is “Bring Up the Bodies,” the sequel to Hilary Mantel’s “Wolf Hall” about the machinations of Thomas Cromwell in the court of Henry VIII. It won the Booker in 2009, and Mantel is the bookies’ favorite to take the prize again. The winner will receive 50,000 pounds (about $80,000) at a ceremony Oct. 16.
●“The Garden of Evening Mists,” by Tan Twan Eng (Weinstein)
●“Swimming Home and Other Stories,” by Deborah Levy (available in the United States in October from Bloomsbury)
●“Bring Up the Bodies,” by Hilary Mantel (Henry Holt)
●“The Lighthouse,” by Alison Moore (Salt; e-book only)
●“Umbrella,” by Will Self (available in the United States in January from Grove)
●“Narcopolis,” by Jeet Thayil (Penguin Press)