Salman Rushdie and Margaret Atwood head up 2019 Booker Prize shortlist

Starting the process with more than 150 submissions, The Booker Prize has announced its 2019 shortlist, with six novels vying for one of the most coveted prizes in English literature. Open to writers of any nationality, the prize celebrates work published in the UK or Ireland, from the previous October to the coming end of September – great news for nominee Margaret Atwood, who’s much awaited sequel to The Handmaid’s Tale doesn’t hit bookstores till next week!

The five strong judging panel who narrowed things down from their original longlist of 13 included 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.

Florence, who chaired the panel, said:

“The common thread is our admiration for the extraordinary ambition of each of these books. There is an abundance of humour, of political and cultural engagement, of stylistic daring and astonishing beauty of language. Like all great literature, these books teem with life, with a profound and celebratory humanity. We have a shortlist of six extraordinary books and we could make a case for each of them as winner, but I want to toast all of them as “winners”. Anyone who reads all six of these books would be enriched and delighted, would be awe-struck by the power of story, and encouraged by what literature can do to set our imaginations free.”

The 2019 shortlist reads as follows:

  • Margaret Atwood (Canada), The Testaments (Chatto & Windus)
  • Lucy Ellmann (UK/USA), Ducks, Newburyport (Galley Beggar Press)
  • Bernardine Evaristo (UK), Girl, Woman, Other (Hamish Hamilton)​
  • Chigozie Obioma (Nigeria), An Orchestra of Minorities (Little Brown)​
  • Salman Rushdie (UK/India), Quichotte (Jonathan Cape)​
  • Elif Shafak (Turkey/UK), 10 Minutes 38 Seconds in This Strange World (Viking)

The winner will be announced at a ceremony at London’s Guildhall on Monday 14th October. Each shortlisted author receives a prize of $2,500 plus a specially bound copy of their work. The overall winner will also receive a grand prize of $50,000.

Previously known as The Man Booker Prize, The Booker Prize kicked off 2019 with a new sponsor and a new name to go with it, as Crankstart replaced The Man Group as key supporter. The Booker also presents The International Booker Prize, which this year went to Jokha Alharthi‘s Celestial Bodies.

For more information on the prize and the shortlisted works, check out The Booker Prizes website!