Booker Prize Shortlist 2019: Salman Rushdie, Margaret Atwood among authors nominated for literary honour

Former Booker winners Salman Rushdie and Margaret Atwood are in the running for the literary honour for Quichotte and The Testaments respectively.

FP Staff September 03, 2019 15:04:38 IST
Booker Prize Shortlist 2019: Salman Rushdie, Margaret Atwood among authors nominated for literary honour
  • Former Booker winners Salman Rushdie and Margaret Atwood are in the running for the literary honour for Quichotte and The Testaments respectively.

  • The Booker 2019 shortlist has been culled by a five-member jury comprising Peter Florence, Afua Hirsch, Joanna MacGregor, Xiaolu Guo, and Liz Calder.

  • Although the Booker initially awarded £5,000 to the winner, the prize money today stands at £50,000.

The shortlist for this year's Booker Prize for Fiction has been announced by The Booker Prize Foundation. Former Booker winners Salman Rushdie and Margaret Atwood are in the running for the literary honour for Quichotte  and The Testaments respectively.

Booker Prize Shortlist 2019 Salman Rushdie Margaret Atwood among authors nominated for literary honour

Canadian author Margaret Atwood's The Testament, sequel to The Handmaid's Tale has been shortlisted for the Booker Prize. Image via The Associated Press

Culled by a five-member jury comprising Hay Festival founder Peter Florence, Afua Hirsch, Joanna MacGregor, Xiaolu Guo, and Liz Calder, six authors feature on the shortlist. "The entries this year are a testament to a vibrant and adventurous publishing industry. Anyone who reads these six books would be enlightened and awe-struck," Florence said during the announcement made at The British Library in London. The shortlist has been selected from 151 entries.

Shortlist for the Booker Prize 2019:

— Margaret Atwood (Canada) – The Testaments (Vintage, Chatto & Windus)

Margaret Atwood's sequel to The Handmaid's Tale picks up the story fifteen years after Offred stepped into the unknown, with the explosive testaments of three female narrators from Gilead.

— Lucy Ellmann (USA/UK) – Ducks, Newburyport (Galley Beggar Press)

Latticing one cherry pie after another, an Ohio housewife tries to bridge the gaps between reality and the torrent of meaningless info that is the United States of America.

— Bernardine Evaristo (UK) – Girl, Woman, Other (Hamish Hamilton)

Girl, Woman, Other follows the lives and struggles of twelve very different characters. Mostly women, black and British, they tell the stories of their families, friends and lovers, across the country and through the years.

— Chigozie Obioma (Nigeria) – An Orchestra of Minorities (Little Brown)

A contemporary twist on the Odyssey, An Orchestra of Minorities is narrated by the chi, or spirit of a young poultry farmer named Chinonso. His life is set off course when he sees a woman who is about to jump off a bridge

— Salman Rushdie (UK/India) – Quichotte (Jonathan Cape)

Inspired by the Cervantes classic, Sam DuChamp, mediocre writer of spy thrillers, creates Quichotte, a courtly, addled salesman obsessed with television, who falls in impossible love with a TV star. Together with his (imaginary) son Sancho, Quichotte sets off on a picaresque quest across America to prove worthy of her hand, gallantly braving the tragicomic perils of an age where “Anything-Can-Happen”.

— Elif Shafak (UK/Turkey) – 10 Minutes 38 Seconds in This Strange World (Viking)

For Leila, each minute after her death brings a sensuous memory: the taste of spiced goat stew, sacrificed by her father to celebrate the long-awaited birth of a son; the sight of bubbling vats of lemon and sugar which the women use to wax their legs while the men attend mosque; the scent of cardamom coffee that Leila shares with a handsome student in the brothel where she works.

The 13-book longlist announced on 24 July also included Britain's Max Porter for Lanny; Nigerian-British writer Oyinkan Braithwaite for My Sister, the Serial Killer; Mexico's Valeria Luiselli for Lost Children Archive; and Jeanette Winterson for Frankissstein.

The prize was won by Anna Burns last year for Milkman. The winner for this year will be announced on 14 October.

Rushdie won the coveted prize in 1982 for Midnight's Children, and Atwood was awarded the Booker in 2000 for The Blind Assassin.

Booker Prize Shortlist 2019 Salman Rushdie Margaret Atwood among authors nominated for literary honour

Salman Rushdie, who won the Booker in 1981 has been shortlisted once more for his work. Image via The Associated Press

In her statement before the announcement, the foundation’s literary director, Gaby Wood, said, “The collective brainpower and creative spirit of this year’s panel is stunning, and the judges’ commitment to high quality literature boundless."

Since its inception in 1969, the Booker Prize has become one of the biggest events in British culture. Formerly called the Booker–McConnell Prize, the honour is a mark of literary renown for writers to even be longlisted. Although the Booker initially awarded £5,000 to the winner, the prize money today stands at £50,000.

(With inputs from The Associated Press)

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