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The Globe and Mail

A bettor's guide to the 2011 Giller Prize

David Bezmozgis is nominated for his novel "The Free World" (HarperCollins).

The Globe lays the early odds on the six Giller Prize finalists.

David Bezmozgis: The Free World

Bank him as the early favourite at 4-1 for his rapid ascent to the international literary A-list. He was on The New Yorker's top 20 writers under 40 list last year and won a Commonwealth Award for his first book, Natasha and Other Stories.

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Lynn Coady: The Antagonist

Odds at 10-1. The novelist and journalist burst onto the scene in 1998 with Strange Heaven, nominated for the Governor-General's fiction prize. She also won a Canadian Authors Association/Air Canada Award for best writer in Canada under 30. A CanLit favourite.

Patrick deWitt: The Sisters Brothers

Odds at 8-1. DeWitt is on four major short lists this fall: the Scotiabank Giller, the Governor General's Award for Fiction, the Man Booker and the Writers' Trust (which he won). British bookmakers rank him least likely to take the Booker (which he didn't win; Julian Barnes did), and he doesn't have the profile of Ondaatje or Bezmozgis. But then, neither did Johanna Skibsrud. He's also the only short-listed author living outside Canada. He rides in on a dark horse.

Esi Edugyan: Half Blood Blues

Odds at 8-1. She's in lockstep with deWitt on the same four awards short lists for her second book. Although her first novel, T he Second Life of Samuel Tyne, was widely praised when it came out in 2004, she had so much trouble finding a publisher for her next book she considered giving up writing. This sensational sleeper could be a real come-from-behind tale.

Zsuzsi Gartner: Better Living Through Plastic Explosives

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The only nominee up for a collection of short stories, she's a writer's writer and exceptional critic. She's also won many awards for her magazine journalism and has mentored such young writers as Sarah Selecky, a Giller finalist last year. Odds at 12-1.

Michael Ondaatje: The Cat's Table

The undisputed literary lion of the short list: Odds at 5-1. Ondaatje's books have won all sorts of awards, including the Booker ( The English Patient), the Giller (shared with David Adams Richards) and the Governor-General's ( Anil's Ghost), as well as CBC's Canada Reads ( In The Skin of the Lion). His international prestige could be a boost. And winning twice is no problem: Alice Munro and M.G. Vassanji have.

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