Titles by Pat Barker, Peter Carey, Salman Rushdie, Nadine Gordimer, J G Farrell and J M Coetzee are the six books deemed Best of the Booker.
The one-off award marks the 40th anniversary of the Booker Prize, and the shortlist was selected by a panel of judges, novelist and critic Victoria Glendinning, writer and broadcaster Mariella Frostrup and John Mullan, professor of English at University College London.
The public is now able to cast their vote through online partnerships with national and international media, with libraries, reading groups and book retailers.
According to William Hill, Rushdie is the favourite to win at 6/4, with Pat Barker the second favourite at 3/1, followed by Peter Carey (4/1) and JM Coetzee at 5/1, Nadine Gordimer (8/1) and JG Farrell (10/1).
The previous time the Booker created a one-off celebratory prize was in 1993 to mark the 25th anniversary, which was also won by Rushdie.
The overall winner of The Best of the Booker will be announced as part of the London Literature Festival at the Southbank Centre on 10th July.
The shortlist in full:
Pat Barker’s The Ghost Road (1995, Viking; paperback Penguin)
Peter Carey’s Oscar and Lucinda (1988, Faber; paperback Faber)
JM Coetzee’s Disgrace (1999, Secker & Warburg; paperback Vintage)
J G Farrell’s The Siege of Krishnapur (1973, Weidenfeld, paperback Phoenix)
Nadine Gordimer’s The Conservationist (1974, Cape; paperback Bloomsbury)
Salman Rushdie’s Midnight’s Children (1981, Cape; paperback Vintage)
This is a tricky one. I loved Oscar and Lucinda, I love Peter Carey generally and of course he’s an Aussie! I hated JM Coetzee’s Disgrace, in fact I think I even gave it away, and I don’t generally give books away. And Midnight’s Children is such a great book from Salman Rushdie. The choice is hard but I would hope it was between Rushdie and Carey