Also making the shortlist were Edward St Aubyn for Mother's Milk, Kiran Desai's The Inheritance of Loss, Kate Grenville's The Secret River, M.J. Hyland's Carry Me Down, and Hisham Matar's In The Country of Men.
David Mitchell's Black Swan Green had been considered the favorite to win the prize; it was not even nominated. The judges also left out previous winners Peter Carey and Barry Unsworth.
The shortlist pleased the Booker bookies: "We couldn't have compiled a better short-list from a bookmaking point of view," the spokesman for oddsmaking firm William Hill told the Guardian. "Many of the well fancied runners like David Mitchell, Peter Carey, Barry Unsworth and Howard Jacobson have all fallen by the wayside and most punters have already lost their money."
The judging panel for the 2006 Man Booker Prize for Fiction is: Hermione Lee (Chair), biographer, academic and a reviewer; Simon Armitage, poet and novelist; Candia McWilliam, award-winning novelist; critic Anthony Quinn; and actor Fiona Shaw.