The 2019 longlist for the Man Booker Prize has been announced and it includes books by two former winners. Among them is Margaret Atwood’s The Testaments, which is the highly anticipated sequel to The Handmaid’s Tale due to be published in September.
This is the sixth time that the Canadian novelist has been nominated for the one of the world’s most prestigious literary prizes, which she won in 2000 for The Blind Assassin.
To date, little is known about The Testaments, except that it is set 15 years after The Handmaid’s Tale and is narrated by three female characters.
“Spoiler discretion and a ferocious nondisclosure agreement prevent any description of who, how, why and even where. So this: It’s terrifying and exhilarating,” said the prize’s judges in a joint statement.
The longlist also features British-Indian author Salman Rushie, whose novel Midnight’s Children won the Booker Prize in 1981. He is now nominated for Quichotte, a modern-day reworking of Cervantes’ Don Quixote telling the story of an ageing travelling salesman who falls in love with a TV star.
Other longlisted authors include British-Turkish novelist Elif Shafak for 10 Minutes 38 Seconds In This Strange World, which details the memories of a murdered sex worker in Istanbul; and British author Deborah Levy for The Man Who Saw Everything, which was praised by the jury for its “playful and complex structure”.
The 13-book longlist also includes An Orchestra Of Minorities by Nigerian author Chigozie Obioma, which is loosely based on the Odyssey; Lost Children Archive by Mexican-Italian writer Valeria Luiselli (this is her first book in English), which follows the journey of several Mexican children as they attempt to cross into the United States; and comic thriller My Sister, The Serial Killer by Nigerian novelist Oyinkan Braithwaite. (See full list below.)
Chair of the judges Peter Florence urged people to discover all 13 nominated books, emphasising the eclectic nature of this year’s selection.
“There are Nobel candidates and debutants on this list. There are no favourites, they are all credible winners.
“They imagine our world, familiar from news cycle disaster and grievance, with wild humour, deep insight and a keen humanity….
“They celebrate the rich complexity of English as a global language. They are exacting, enlightening and entertaining. Really – read all of them,” he said in a statement.
Gaby Wood, literary director of the Booker Prize Foundation, added: “Watching the 2019 Booker Prize judges arrive at this wonderful list has been an invigorating experience.
“Firstly because they deemed the calibre of the submissions to be extremely high overall.
“Secondly because they reached far and wide in their search for the best fiction of the year, calling in (among others) young adult novels and books that are sometimes dismissed as “commercial”.
“Thirdly because they effortlessly absorbed the quality of the writing without ever considering the passport of its author.
“And lastly because, exercising their sharp minds and varied tastes, the judges weighed up each book individually yet produced a collection that shows the incredible range of what’s being written today.
“There are familiar names here writing at the height of their powers, there are young writers of exceptional imagination and daring, there is wit, incisive political thought, stillness and thrill.
“And there is a plurality that shows the making of literature in English to be a global endeavour. The 2019 longlist is a testament to its extremely good health.”
The shortlist of six books will be announced on Sept 3; the shortlisted authors each receive £2,500 (RM13,000) and a specially bound edition of their book.
The winner of the 2019 Man Booker Prize, who will receive £50,000 (RM257,000), will be revealed at a ceremony in London on Oct 14.
The Full Longlist
10 Minutes 38 Seconds In This Strange World by Elif Shafak
An Orchestra Of Minorities by Chigozie Obioma
Ducks, Newburyport by Lucy Ellmann
Frankissstein by Jeanette Winterson
Girl, Woman, Other by Bernardine Evaristo
Lanny by Max Porter
Lost Children Archive by Valeria Luiselli
My Sister, The Serial Killer by Oyinkan Braithwaite
Night Boat To Tangier by Kevin Barry
Quichotte by Salman Rushdie
The Man Who Saw Everything by Deborah Levy
The Testaments by Margaret Atwood
The Wall by John Lanchester – AP Relaxnews/thebookerprizes.com