The Booker Prize, according to its website, is the leading literary award in the English speaking world.
The prize goes to what the judges deem the best novel of the year written in English, and the winner receives a cool £50 000.
Being nominated also leads to a considerable spike in sales, so it’s a shortlist you want to make.
South African author Damon Galgut will be delighted to see his novel, The Promise, chosen as one of the six.
It’s his third time on the list, having been previously been nominated for 2003’s The Good Doctor and 2010’s In a Strange Room.
This via the Booker Prize write-up of The Promise:
The narrator’s eye shifts and blinks, deliciously lethal in its observation of the crash and burn of a white South African family. On their farm outside Pretoria, the Swarts are gathering for Ma’s funeral.
The younger generation detests everything the family stands for, not least the failed promise to the Black woman who has worked for them her whole life.
After years of service, Salome was promised her own house, her own land, yet somehow, as each decade passes, that promise remains unfulfilled.
As with last year, there is only one British author nominated, although Douglas Stuart did go on to win in 2020.
He saw sales of Shuggie Bain spike 1 900% in the week following his win.
Via the BBC, here’s a summary of the other five shortlisted novels:
Anuk Arudpragasam – A Passage North. In his second novel, the Sri Lankan author explores the lasting effects of the trauma and violence of his country’s civil war, and a past love affair.
Patricia Lockwood – No One Is Talking About This. This is the first novel by the American poet and memoirist. It follows a woman catapulted to social media fame, told using what Booker judge Rowan Williams described as the “unpromising medium of online prattle”.
Nadifa Mohamed – The Fortune Men. Mohamed was born in Somaliland and raised in Britain, and her book is set in the docks of post-war Cardiff Bay. It fictionalises the story of Mahmood Mattan, a real Somali sailor who was wrongly accused of murder.
Richard Powers – Bewilderment. The US author won the Pulitzer for his last novel The Overstory. Here, a widowed astrobiologist turns to experimental treatments to help his nine-year-old son with additional needs – and take him to other planets.
Maggie Shipstead – Great Circle. Another American author, Shipstead’s third novel intertwines the stories of a daring post-war female pilot and a 21st century Hollywood actress who is trying to rescue her reputation by making a film about her.
There’s been some chatter about the surprising omission of Klara and the Sun, the dystopian novel by Kazuo Ishiguro.
Perhaps it’s because he’s already been nominated on four separate occasions, winning in 1989 for The Remains of the Day.
South African author Karen Jennings made this year’s Booker Prize longlist for her novel, An Island, but missed out on the shortlist.
The winner will be announced on November 3.
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