Authors in running for 'best of best' James Tait Black award

image captionThe shortlist was picked by English literature students and academics at the University of Edinburgh

Six authors from the past century have been shortlisted for the best ever winner of Britain's oldest book award.

Angela Carter, Graham Greene, James Kelman, Cormac McCarthy, Muriel Spark and Caryl Phillips are in the running for the James Tait Black accolade.

The Best of the Best of the James Tait Black Prize will honour the best loved novel to have won the award since it was created in 1919.

The winning book will be announced in December.

The award has been created to celebrate the 250th anniversary of English literature study at the University of Edinburgh.

The shortlist was selected by academics and students of literature at the university, and the winner will be chosen by a judging panel including broadcaster Kirsty Wark and award-winning author and writer in residence at the university, Alan Warner.

Publisher's widow

The six books competing for the prize are: Nights At The Circus by Angela Carter; The Heart Of The Matter by Graham Greene; A Disaffection by James Kelman; The Road by Cormac McCarthy, Crossing The River by Caryl Phillips and The Mandlebaum Gate by Muriel Spark.

Regius Professor Greg Walker, chair of the James Tait Black Prizes, said: "This best of the best award is a wonderful opportunity to revisit some of the best writers in the literary canon.

"It is fitting in the year of celebration of 250 years of study of English literature at the University of Edinburgh that we recognise the wonderful contribution this prize makes to honouring great literature."

The James Tait Black Memorial Prizes were founded in 1919 by Janet Coats, the widow of publisher James Tait Black, to commemorate her husband's love of reading.

The annual awards are for the best work of fiction and the best biography published during the previous 12 months.

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