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Atwood, Rushdie on Booker Prize shortlist

September 3, 2019

The six finalists for the top literary award in the English-speaking world have been revealed. Veteran authors Margaret Atwood and Salman Rushdie have already picked up the Booker Prize in the past.

Deutschland Frankfurt Pauluskirche - Margaret Atwood erhält Friedenspreis
Image: picture-alliance/dpa/A. Dedert

The Booker Prize shortlist, revealed on Tuesday, is always a highly awaited announcement in the world of literature. 

Six books were selected from the longlist of 13. "Like all great literature, these books teem with life, with a profound and celebratory humanity," said jury chair Peter Florence at the press conference.

These are the works that made it onto the shortlist: 

- Margaret Atwood's novel The Testaments is a sequel to The Handmaid's Tale, a dystopian novel from 1985 which has also been adapted into a hit TV series. The new novel is set 15 years later. The Canadian author won the Booker in 2000 with The Blind Assassin.

- Scotland-based author Lucy Ellmann's Ducks, Newburyport explores the worries of an Ohio housewife; the book is described as "a heresy, a wonder — and a revolution in the novel."

Chigozie Obioma Autor
Obioma's first novel, "The Fishermen," won several awardsImage: picture-alliance/Photoshot

- Chigozie Obioma from Nigeria, had already been shortlisted for the award with his debut work, The Fishermen. His second novel, An Orchestra of Minorities, has now also been selected among the finalists.

- British-Turkish author Elif Safak is the most-read female author in Turkey. Her novel 10 Minutes 38 Seconds in This Strange World is written from the perspective of a dead woman, a victim of sexual violence.

- British-Indian author Salman Rushdie's shortlisted novel, Quichotte , modernizes Cervantes' classic and is set in present-day USA. The author of The Satanic Verses won the 1981 Booker Prize for Midnight's Children and was selected twice as the "Booker of Bookers," to mark the 25th anniversary and the 40th anniversary of the prize. Rushdie was also shortlisted for several other novels.

- Bernardine Evaristo, from the UK, has also made it onto the prestigious list with her novel Girl, Woman, Other, which follows the lives and struggles of 12 very different characters. The jury describes the book as "Joyfully polyphonic and vibrantly contemporary, this is a gloriously new kind of history, a novel of our times: celebratory, ever-dynamic and utterly irresistible."

"The common thread is our admiration for the extraordinary ambition of each of these books. There is an abundance of humor, of political and cultural engagement, of stylistic daring and astonishing beauty of language,"  said Florence.

The Booker Prize, launched in 1969, used to be restricted to authors of the Commonwealth countries, the Republic of Ireland or Zimbabwe. Since 2013, international citizens are eligible as long as the book has been published in the UK.

Beyond the guaranteed increase in book sales, the winner of the award also receives £50,000 (€54,750 / $60,000) on top of the £2,500 granted to each of the six shortlisted authors.

Last year's winner was Northern Irish author Anna Burns for her novel Milkman and US writer George Saunders who won in 2017 with Lincoln in the Bardo

The 2019 winner will be announced on October 14. 


Portrait of a young woman with red hair and glasses
Elizabeth Grenier Editor and reporter for DW Culture