Carol Birch - Jamrach's Menagerie
The first 'western' to be shortlisted for the Booker Prize is also a bleakly comic novel. Imagine Cormac McCarthy meets 'Bottom'. A bizarre cast of eccentric outcasts thrown into deconstructed western cliches. The most likely of the short list to be filmed.
Esi Edugyan - Half Blood Blues
Set in Paris and Berlin just before and during WWII, it tells the story of jazz musicians, German and American, black, white and mixed race, caught in up the mayhem. A novel full of historical detail and atmosphere but a bit predictable in plot, when they tell you on the cover that it's a story of betrayal you pretty much know where you're going.
Stephen Kelman - Pigeon English