First-time Leicestershire novelist Alison Moore is shortlisted for Booker
A first-time novelist says she is having to pinch herself after being shortlisted for one of the world's most prestigious literary prizes.
Alison Moore's debut novel The Lighthouse is one of six contenders for the Man Booker Prize, which rewards the best novel of the year.
The 41-year-old, who previously wrote short stories, received the news yesterday.
"I just can't believe it," she said. "Reaching the shortlist is ridiculously exciting.
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"I keep feeling like I ought to stop daydreaming and get on with something, but it's all real. I'm buzzing."
The Lighthouse tells the tale of a middle-aged man trying to find himself on a summer walking holiday in Germany after the failure of his marriage.
It will be up against the latest works by bestsellers such as Will Self and Nicola Barker, along with former Man Booker winner Hilary Mantel.
The winner will be announced next month.
If successful, Alison, who lives in Wymeswold, near Loughborough, with web designer husband Dan, 37, and three-year-old son Arthur, will be the first British author to win the life-changing award with their debut novel.
She would also be the second Leicestershire author in as many years to win, following Coalville-born Julian Barnes' success last year with his book, The Sense of Ending.
"Just to be in the same company as such great authors is amazing," said Alison. "It's incredible to think when I sat down to write the book two years ago I'd be in this position. I'm pinching myself."
Alison's novel is published by Norfolk independent publisher Salt.
Editor Nicholas Royle said: "It's been clear for a couple of years what a brilliant short story writer Alison is, and now the secret is out – she is an equally brilliant novelist.
"She's also wonderfully modest. She didn't expect this – none of us did – although there's no question she deserves it."
Sir Peter Stothard, editor of the Times Literary Supplement and chair of judges for the 2012 Booker Prize, said: "The judges admired The Lighthouse's bleak inner landscape, a temperature control set low and an impressively assured control."
Bookmakers William Hill have immediately installed Will Self as favourite to win the prize, with Ladbrokes offering the shortest odds for Hilary Mantel.
Alison and The Lighthouse, however, are most definitely in with a shout.
Jonathan Ruppin, web editor at Foyles bookshops, said: "All six books do so much more than simply tell an engaging story.
"They are written with wit, insight and, above all, pathos, offering profound commentaries on the human condition.
"One can never discount the consistently brilliant Hilary Mantel and Will Self has surpassed himself with Umbrella, but I'm tipping Alison Moore's moody and exquisite The Lighthouse to pull off a triumph for the dynamic world of indie publishing."
The Lighthouse costs £8.99 and is available online and in all good bookshops.