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Well-fancied Banville plays down talk of Nobel Prize

BOOKER Prize-winning author John Banville, above, features relatively well in the betting for this year's Nobel Prize in Literature, which will be announced next month.

Ladbrokes has Banville at 25/1 to take the gong.

He is well ahead of the leading British writers in the betting, with the nearest being AS Byatt at 33/1 and Ian McEwan at 40/1. Indian-British writer Salman Rushdie is also at 40/1.

The 4/1 favourite is Syrian poet Adonis, who won the Goethe prize -- Germany's major literary award -- earlier this year.

The last Irish writer to win the prize was Seamus Heaney in 1995, while other Irish winners were Samuel Beckett, George Bernard Shaw and William Butler Yeats.

Banville, who won the Booker in 2005 with 'The Sea', was awarded the prestigious Franz Kafka Prize for his works in May.

An international award, the Kafka is often seen as a predictor of who will get the Nobel Prize.

But Banville himself is not banking on a win.

"I've never understood betting odds," he said.

"When 'The Book of Evidence' was shortlisted for the Booker in 1989, a friend of mine, a gentleman of the turf, urged me to bet on the other five shortlistees, saying it was a sure thing, since if I won the prize I would have the prize-money, and if I lost one of the others would win . . .

"But the thing baffled me and I never placed the bets. I doubt I'll be visiting Ladbrokes any time soon."

American writer Thomas Pynchon (10/1), Algerian novelist Assia Djebar (12/1), and Japanese novelist Haruki Murakami (16/1) are also among the frontrunners.

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