The Booker Prize
The Booker Prize Longlist
Widely regarded as the UK’s foremost literary award, the Booker Prize recognises the best novel written in English and published in the UK and Ireland, as voted for by an annually chosen panel of expert judges. Across the prize’s history it has launched the careers of novelists from Arundhati Roy to Allan Hollinghurst, raising the profile of ground-breaking and experimental works including, The Life of Pi, The Narrow Road to the Deep North, Wolf Hall and, last year, Anna Burns’ The Milkman.
Replete with talent, this year’s longlist features a formidable line-up of literary heavyweights - including former Man Booker Prize winners Salman Rushdie and Margaret Atwood, Women’s Prize-winning author Elif Shafak and Whitbread Award-winner John Lanchester - alongside an abundance of new writing talent from around the world. From historically-rooted fables to futuristic dystopias and stories that test the boundaries of the novel’s form, these are books that reflect powerfully on our world today.
Thirteen authors (the so-called ‘Booker Dozen’) compete for a place on the shortlist, which will be announced on 3 September 2019. The final winner will be announced at a ceremony on 14 October 2019.
Undoubtedly the most highly-anticipated book of 2019, The Testaments is the landmark sequel to Margaret Atwood’s seminal masterpiece, The Handmaid’s Tale. Picking up ten years after its predecessor’s tantalisingly open-ended conclusion, The Testaments promises a new window into Atwood’s dystopian world, as seen through the eyes of three women of Gilead. Having previously won the Man Booker Prize with The Blind Assassin, The Testaments could see Atwood become the second novelist to win the prize twice in its illustrious fifty year history.
A sly, twinkling jewel of a novel, Night Boat to Tangier ripples with the kind of mordant humour and tattered romanticism that has made Kevin Barry one of the most highly respected of contemporary authors. Carrying echoes of the theatrical brio of Harold Pinter, Barry’s novel treads a technicolour turn down memory lane with menace and heart aplenty on the way. Marrying laconic Irish wit to faded Latin glamour, this tale of careworn gangsters, lost love and male friendship is rich, evocative fiction at its very finest. ‘Rare brilliance’ – The Independent.
Sharp, menacing and darkly funny, this debut novel from Nigerian author Oyinkan Braithwaite is not just an inventive take on the serial-murder thriller but also a tender examination of sibling relationships in an oppressively patriarchal society. A wickedly original story that turns the tables on the woman-as-victim trope, My Sister, the Serial Killer is an addictive - and hugely satisfying - read. 'Pulpy, peppery and sinister,’ as the New York Times writes, ‘this scorpion-tailed little thriller leaves a response, and a sting, you will remember.'
Kaleidoscopic in theme and incandescent in tone, Evaristo’s panorama of modern black womanhood resounds with an astonishing diversity of voice and character as seen across a changing century. Tracking the lives and loves of a dozen British women through generations and social classes, Girl, Woman, Other weaves a distinctive, illuminating tapestry of modern British life. ‘This is a story for our times,’ comments the New Statesman. ‘If you want to understand modern day Britain, this is the writer to read.’
Framed against the aftermath of a catastrophic climate disaster known as ‘the Change’, Lanchester paints a deeply compelling picture of a divided nation, committed to defending its walls at all costs. The dark heir of his state-of-the-nation novel Capital, The Wall is a Middle England dystopia for our fractured and uncertain times. A thrillingly apposite allegory of Broken Britain that asks key questions about the choice between personal freedom and national interest.
British author and playwright Deborah Levy’s first fictional outing since 2016’s Hot Milk, The Man Who Saw Everything is a bewitching novel of fractured time, memory and experience. Pin-wheeling through one man’s life, from late 1980’s Abbey Road to communist East Berlin and beyond, Levy’s deft, playful and sharply honed novel is a masterpiece of narrative invention. A book that asks bold questions about how our love, allegiance and comprehension might change – subtly, shatteringly - in the face of the merciless march of unfolding history. Previously shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize twice for Swimming Home and Hot Milk, will The Man Who Saw Everything prove the charm?
Obioma’s reinterpretation of Igbo folklore intertwines with a vibrant updating of Homer’s Odyssey to create a myth-infused story of love and a life-plan gone awry. Delicate yet muscular, thoughtful yet dynamic, An Orchestra of Minorities churns with the wrench of heartache and the sacrifices we make for the ones we love. Previously shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize for his haunting novel The Fishermen, An Orchestra of Minorities delivers a welcome second nomination to an author with a striking ability to meld myth and lyrical storytelling with timelessly powerful themes.
A child, a family, a village; a community built on ancient soil, shelter to generations of lives and the tales they tell. For all time, Dead Papa Toothwort has forever walked amongst them all. Now, he is drawn again from his slumber, drawn to something new and precious. The boy. Lanny. The author of Grief is the Thing with Feathers takes flight once more with a paean to childhood, friendship and landscape that interrogates the very form of the book itself. A trailblazing work of sublime lyrical intensity, Lanny is a tour de force of style, substance and near-mythic power.
A dazzling conceit handled sensitively by a master of world literature, journalist, activist and novelist Elf Shafak’s remarkable new novel traces the memories – by turns poignant, effervescent and tragic – of Tequila Leila in the ten minutes after she dies. Unearthing unexpected joy and illumination amidst the devastation of its premise, this is a novel that extracts the value of a passionate, fully lived life from its untimely ending. Sensuously written with Shafak’s customary tenderness and insight and fully evoking the atmosphere of contemporary Istanbul, 10 Minutes 38 Seconds in This Strange World is a profoundly moving triumph.
Form very much reflects subject matter in Jeanette Winterson’s astonishing new novel, as the celebrated author of Oranges are Not the Only Fruit splices together the iconic narrative of Frankenstein with a modern day dissection of AI, cryogenics and synthetic humanity. As any Winterson reader might expect, there’s plenty of wry, tongue-in-cheek, black humour to her lively and energetic reanimation of Mary Shelley’s man-made monster novel. The result is a magnificently macabre fable about body image and body horror that encompasses some of the most contentious and pertinent issues of the day.