The Booker Prize 2019 Shortlist

From the colossal literary pedigree of Margaret Atwood’s The Testaments and Salman Rushdie’s Quichotte, to a Nigerian odyssey, a story from death’s door, a verse novel exploring the lives of black women and a monologue of Trump’s America told in a single sentence, welcome to this year’s outstanding Booker Prize shortlist.

With two former winners in the running – including six-time nominee Margaret Atwood – this year’s selection heralds one of the toughest competitions in the award’s history. Novels of our time and foretelling our future: full of fury, longing and tentative hope.

The winner will be revealed at a ceremony on Monday 14 October 2019.

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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. 

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Through one discursive sentence spread across 900 pages, an Ohio housewife catalogues the state of the American nation under the scattershot Trump regime. A monumental feat of sustained characterisation, everyday drama and devastating satire, Ducks, Newburyport is a classic for our times and a landmark for the modern novel. Pitched by an enraptured Guardian as ‘Anne Tyler meets Gertrude Stein’, it is a book that, in stretching to the limits the novel’s ever-adaptable form, is an ‘unabashed triumph’.
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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.’

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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.

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A rumbustious picaresque that dissects modern America with merciless relish, Quichotte tells the surreal, satirical story of a television-obsessed travelling salesman and his imaginary son. Framed as a riotous road trip across the United States, Rushdie’s latest masterpiece is a hilarious, poignant and bitingly intelligent take on the rebooted American Dream. A previous Man Booker Prize winner with his illusionary epic Midnight’s Children, securing the 2019 award would make Rushdie only the second author (after Hilary Mantel) to win twice in five decades.
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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.

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The Longlist

The Testaments
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Night Boat to Tangier
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My Sister, the Serial Killer
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Ducks, Newburyport
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Girl, Woman, Other
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The Wall
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The Man Who Saw Everything
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Lost Children Archive
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An Orchestra of Minorities
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Lanny
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Quichotte
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10 Minutes 38 Seconds in this Strange World
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Frankissstein
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Previous Winners

Milkman
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Lincoln in the Bardo
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The Sellout
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A Brief History of Seven Killings
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Bring up the Bodies
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The Sense of an Ending
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The Finkler Question
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Wolf Hall
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The White Tiger
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The Gathering
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The Inheritance of Loss
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The Sea
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The Line of Beauty
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Vernon God Little
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Life Of Pi
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True History of the Kelly Gang
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