The longlist, or ‘Booker Dozen’, for the 2019 Booker Prize was announced on Tuesday 23 July.
The list of 13 books was selected by a panel of five judges: founder and director of Hay Festival Peter Florence (Chair); former fiction publisher and editor Liz Calder; novelist, essayist and filmmaker Xiaolu Guo; writer, broadcaster and former barrister Afua Hirsch; and concert pianist, conductor and composer Joanna MacGregor.
“If you only read one book this year, make a leap. Read all 13 of these. 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. These writers offer joy and hope. They celebrate the rich complexity of English as a global language. They are exacting, enlightening and entertaining. Really – read all of them.” Peter Florence
Featuring 8 women and 5 men with authors from the UK, Canada, Ireland, Nigeria, the United States, Mexico, Italy, India, South Africa and Turkey, the nominated titles are:
Margaret Atwood (Canada), The Testaments (Vintage, Chatto & Windus)
– the sequel to The Handmaid’s Tale, fifteen years later, as told by three female characters.
Kevin Barry (Ireland), Night Boat to Tangier (Canongate Books)
– sex, death, narcotics, sudden violence and old magic in a Spanish port town
Oyinkan Braithwaite (UK/Nigeria), My Sister, The Serial Killer (Atlantic Books)
– a blackly comic novel about how blood is thicker – and more difficult to get out of the carpet – than water.
Lucy Ellmann (USA/UK), Ducks, Newburyport (Galley Beggar Press)
– A scorching indictment of America’s barbarity, past and present, a lament for the way we are sleepwalking into environmental disaster.
Bernardine Evaristo (UK), Girl, Woman, Other (Hamish Hamilton)
– Generations of women, the people they have loved and unloved – the complexities of race, sex, gender, politics, friendship, love, fear and regret.
John Lanchester (UK), The Wall (Faber & Faber)
– a chilling fable, dystopian novel that blends the most compelling issues of our time—rising waters, rising fear, rising political division—into a suspenseful story of love, trust, and survival.
Deborah Levy (SouthAfrica/UK), The Man Who Saw Everything (Hamish Hamilton)
– the difficulty of seeing ourselves and others clearly. Specters that come back to haunt old and new love, previous and current incarnations of Europe, conscious and unconscious transgressions, and real and imagined betrayals, while investigating the cyclic nature of history and its reinvention by people in power. And a man crossing Abbey Road.
Valeria Luiselli (Mexico/Italy), Lost Children Archive (4th Estate)
– inspired by the experiences of desperate children crossing the desert border between Mexico, New Mexico and Arizona, and the Apache warriors who made their last stand in the desert, told as a family sets off on a road trip.
Chigozie Obioma (Nigeria), An Orchestra of Minorities (Little Brown)
– contemporary twist on the Odyssey, narrated by the chi, or spirit of a young poultry farmer, a heart-wrenching epic about destiny and determination.
Max Porter (UK), Lanny (Faber & Faber)
– an experimental fantasy set in an English village where a child goes missing, highlighting societal issues, history and the environment.
Salman Rushdie (UK/India), Quichotte (Jonathan Cape)
– a tour-de-force that is both an homage to an immortal work of literature and a modern masterpiece about the quest for love and family, a dazzling Don Quixote for the modern age.
Elif Shafak (UK/Turkey), 10 Minutes 38 Seconds in This Strange World (Viking)
– After death, a woman’s brain remains active for 10 minutes 38 seconds, during which her memories recall significant moments of her life and stories of 5 close friends she met at key stages in her life.
Jeanette Winterson (UK), Frankissstein (Jonathan Cape)
– a young transgender doctor called Ry is falling in love – against their better judgement – with a celebrated professor leading the public debate around AI. Alternating with chapters narrated by 19 year old Mary Shelley, who is writing a story about creating a non-biological life-form.
The list was chosen from 151 novels published in the UK or Ireland between 1 October 2018 and 30 September 2019. The shortlist will be announced Tuesday 3 September.
I like that it’s such an international list, with voices from a variety of different countries and cultures, bringing more depth and diversity to the prize.
I haven’t read any of these titles, but I’m interested in Chigozie Obioma’s An Orchestra of Minorities novel, Valeria Luiselli’s Lost Children Archive and Deborah Levy’s and Bernadine Evaristo’s novels. That said, I’m only reading #WIT Women in Translation during August, so I’ll be watching and reading the reviews of these longlisted titles to see which really tempt me.
And you? Have you read any of these? Interested in any?
The Guardian article: Not Read Them Yet? A cheat’s guide