Mantel, who won the £50,000 ($78,000) award in 2009 for her book Wolf Hall, will be competing against five other writers:
Tan Twan Eng for The Garden of Evening Mists
Deborah Levy for Swimming Home
Alison Moore for The Lighthouse
Will Self for Umbrella
Jeet Thayil for Narcopolis
"We loved the shock of language shown in so many different ways and were exhilarated by the vigour and vividly defined values in the six books that we chose -- and in the visible confidence of the novel's place in forming our words and ideas," said Peter Stothard, chair of the judges on Tuesday.
Bookmakers immediately made Mantel a front-runner to win the prize. Online sports betting company William Hill gave her 2/1 odds, behind Umbrella, a century-spanning stream of consciousness by Britain's Will Self, according to the Associated Press.