The Man Booker Prize is arguably the most important prize in literature, and the shortlist has now been revealed.
There are some familiar names on the list – like Margaret Atwood and Salman Rushdie – as well as some new, exciting voices in fiction making an appearance.
Even though the list has been whittled down to six, it is still quite overwhelming to know where to begin. The winner will be announced on October 14, but in the meantime, we’ve broken down each of the contenders so you can best know which would suit your tastes…
We can’t actually tell you too much about Margaret Atwood’s shortlisted novel The Testaments, as unusually, it’s yet to be released. However, we do know it’s a sequel to Atwood’s cult classic The Handmaid’s Tale, set 15 years after protagonist Offred’s final scene in the book.
At its heart, The Handmaid’s Tale is a work of dystopian fiction, which some see parallels in modern political events happening all over the world. We’re sure The Testaments will continue on in a similar vein, while feeling even more relevant to 2019.
Along with Atwood, Salman Rushdie is the other author on the shortlist who has already won a Booker Prize (back in 1981). This time, he’s nominated for Quichotte, where he turns his attentions to America.
It’s a meandering and sprawling story where he retells the classic tale Don Quixote, but focusing on a recently fired opioid salesman on a quest to win the heart of a famous talk show host. Characteristically ambitious and sweeping from Rushdie, it’s a commentary on America, life, death and the author himself.
If you want to read something quite unlike anything else you might have come across before, look no further than Ducks, Newburyport by Lucy Ellmann.
Clocking in at around 1,000 pages, it’s made up of one sentence; a stream of consciousness from a nameless Ohio woman recovering from cancer. We hear everything about her life, from her relationship, to her husband, to the political situation in America, with only commas to break up the action.
If you like the works of Zadie Smith, you’ll love Girl, Woman, Other by Bernardine Evaristo, which has made this year’s shortlist.
It’s an anthology book about the black female and non-binary experience in England. Each chapter is dedicated to a different character and their lives – whether it’s Amma the lesbian playwright, her daughter Jazz, or Shirley, the uptight schoolteacher. Each story is deeply personal and they all expertly interweave with each other and connect to show a broader picture of how varied the black British experience is.
Elif Shafak’s novel 10 Minutes 38 Seconds In This Strange World is a moving one, as it is set in the 10 minutes after protagonist Tequila Leila’s death, looking back at the story of her life.
Leila is a Turkish sex worker who has been murdered and her body dumped, and she reflects on her life, with the story playing out against the backdrop of Turkish modern history. It’s a powerful and provocative statement against both the Turkish government and the treatment of women.
Chigozie Obioma has been shortlisted for his second book, called An Orchestra Of Minorities. The novel focuses on Nigerian bird farmer Solomon Chinonso, with all the action narrated by his chi – essentially his spirit.
He falls for Ndali, but her high-class family don’t approve of the match – so Chinonso goes to better his life, but only to meet tragedy in the process.
- Press Association