In the world of books and literature, there are a number of various prizes given to authors and their literary masterpieces. We have the Nobel Prize in Literature, the Pulitzer Prize, British Book Awards, and many more. But today we’ll look at the Man Booker Prize, which is awarded for the best novel, written in English, and published in the UK and Ireland. Being nominated for the Longlist will definitely get you noticed; the Shortlist will mark the author for distinction; and the winner, well, can expect success, fame, and international renown.
According to their website, the winner receives £50,000 and the shortlisted authors are all awarded £2,500. But it’s not only about the monetary prize. Receiving this acknowledgment will bring the authors an increase in book sales and a wider audience of readers.
The Shortlist will be announced on the 3rd September, with the winner being announced on the 14th October. But on the 24th July, they announced the Longlist which consists of 13 books. And this is what we’ll look into today! I have to be honest, I haven’t had a chance to read a single one of these books yet… But at a few of them are definitely going onto my TBR list! The descriptions are a combination of a few blurbs (Goodreads, Waterstones, The Booker Prize website), my opinion about them and generic thoughts.
“The Testaments” by Margaret Atwood
Genre: Science Fiction / Dystopia
I am eagerly waiting for the 10th September to finally read it! This is a sequel to the acclaimed “The Handmaid’s Tale”, which I absolutely loved and cannot recommend enough! The book picks up the story 15 years after the final scene in the first one. We will have three female characters narrating the story and their experience in Gilead. I cannot wait to see what Margaret Atwood has created and how Gilead evolved/collapsed/whatever else happened to it.
“Night Boat to Tangier” by Kevin Barry
Two Irish gangsters at the Spanish port of Algeciras await for a boat from Tangier. As the Booker website describes it, “this is a novel drenched in sex and death and narcotics, in sudden violence and old magic, but it is obsessed, above all, with the mysteries of love.” Seems like a gripping story which delves deep into the characters’ pasts and their lives.
“My Sister, the Serial Killer” by Oyinkan Braithwaite
Genre: Fiction / Mystery
This book has been popping up in numerous blogs, reading lists and other websites. A satirical thriller about a Nigerian woman, Korede, whose younger sister, Ayoola, has a somewhat odd habit of killing her boyfriends… After the third one, she is technically labelled a serial killer. But the story gets going when Ayoola takes interest in a handsome doctor who Korede has been dreaming off since she started working at the hospital. This could be a very entertaining read!
“Ducks, Newburyport” by Lucy Ellmann
A mammoth of a book this one, with over one thousand pages! As soon as I read the blurb and the concept behind it, I decided that I just had to have it. I did go into Waterstones yesterday and nearly bought it, but the guilt of having probably 50+ of unread books at home got me. But I will definitely get round to this one as well! Basically, a list/stream of thoughts from an Ohio housewife and baker. It tackles the small and the big universal subjects, delving deep into anxieties of the contemporary America. I don’t think I can give this book an accurate description/blurb without reading it first. It sounds incredibly different, grand, and all-encompassing.
“Girl, Woman, Other” by Bernardine Evaristo
The book follows 12 different characters throughout their lives and struggles. They’re mostly women, black and British. The story spans throughout the country, years, friends, lovers and families. The books blurb slightly reminds me of “Homegoing” by Yaa Gyasi, as that was a huge family saga spanning through years and continents. I can’t wait to read “Girl, Woman, Other” one day!
“The Wall” by John Lanchester
Genre: Science Fiction / Dystopia
The Wall, an enormous concrete barrier, surrounds the entire island nation. The Defenders protect the wall for two years each from the Others who try to attack the nation constantly. The book follows Joseph Kavanagh, who just begins patrolling the Wall. The book explores rising issues of fear, political turmoil and change. This book went into my to-read list as soon as I finished reading the blurb, because I’m a sucker for good dystopian books. Honestly think it’s my favourite genre.
“The Man Who Saw Everything” by Deborah Levy
In 1989, Saul Adler is hit by a car on Abbey Road. He is fine, and continues living his life of break ups, love, moving abroad, and dealing with an authoritarian father. In 2016, Saul Adler is hit by a car on Abbey Road, again. This time he’s not fine and is rushed to a hospital, where he slips in an out of consciousness. The book jumps between time zones, leaving a trail to follow and analyse, examining what we see and fail to see in our lives. I, personally, really enjoy books that jump between different time periods in someone’s life. It creates that mystery of building up the story as you go along. Another one to add to my to-read list!
“Lost Children Archive” by Valeria Luiselli
An American family road trip story that also tackles the crisis we’re seeing at the moment at America’s southern boarder. This book takes these two drastically different journeys and intertwines them into a novel that explores what it means to be human in today’s world. The book is told from two perspectives – the mother and the son. It also delves into how we analyse and document our own experiences, and how we remember them. Having only read the blurb, I believe that this book should be on every person’s reading list as it tackles a current day crisis that America doesn’t want to acknowledge.
“An Orchestra of Minorities” by Chigozie Obioma
A story about destiny and determination, and the collision of both. The story starts in Nigeria, where Chinonso, a young poultry farmer, stops a woman from jumping off a bridge. The woman, Ndali, and Chinonso eventually fall in love but due to wealth and education differences between the two, Ndali’s family objects to their union. A determined Chinonso moves to Cyprus to attend a small college. But the world and the people aren’t what they seem. He is banished to the sidelines, getting further from his dream, Ndali, and his life in Nigeria. A contemporary twist on Homer’s “Odyssey” following the mythic style of the Igbo literary tradition. Once again, going onto my to-read list (which is growing way too fast…)
“Lanny” by Max Porter
The story is based in a generic English village, sixty miles outside London. Unremarkable and plain, the village belongs to the people living there… and to the people who lived there hundreds of years ago. And to a mysterious figure that the schoolchildren used to draw green and leafy, chocked by tendrils growing out of his mouth, Dead Papa Toothwort. He’s awake and looking, listening to what the village has to say. And listening, so that he can find a mischievous boy, Lanny. The blurb of the book really doesn’t reveal much, but is nonetheless intriguing!
“Quichotte” by Salman Rushdie
As you can probably tell from the title, the story takes inspiration from Miguel de Cervantes’ well known book “Don Quixote“. It’s a modern day quest for love and family. Sam DuChamp, a mediocre writer of spy thrillers, creates a new character, Quichotte, a salesman obsessed by a TV star who wants to prove his worthiness to her. The books deals with Quichotte’s quest for love and all the issues he encounters on his way, as well as Sam’s midlife crisis. The two stories masterfully intertwine and take the reader on a one hell of a ride.
“10 Minutes 38 Seconds in This Strange World” by Elif Shafak
10 minutes and 38 seconds is all that Leila has, after she’s been murdered and thrown into a dumpster. As her brain shuts down, she recollects her life in its entirety. Another book that is going straight into my to-read list! I really enjoy books that cover entire life stories or family sagas and span through years, decades, centuries.
“Frankissstein” by Jeanette Winterson
Once again, the blurb of this book got me hooked. It spans through multiple time frames and locations, different stories and even more different people. A young transgender doctor in Brexit Britain who falls in love; a divorced man aiming to change the sex game with a new generation of sex dolls; a cryogenics facility in Arizona with dozens of bodies of men and women waiting to be revived; and a girl in 1861, who writes a story about the creation of a non-biological life-form. I don’t know about you, but this really sounds like a gripping book!
And there you have it, folks! All thirteen books from this years Booker Prize Longlist. Hopefully, by the time the Shortlist comes out, I will have had a chance to devour at least one of these beauties!
Let me know if you’ve read any of these, your thoughts, and recommendations! Let me know what you’re reading at the moment in the comments below. Happy reading!