Level up your reading list – the Booker Prize 2021 shortlist is here

Level up your reading list – the Booker Prize 2021 shortlist is here
From Patricia Lockwood’s debut ‘No One Is Talking About This’ to Damon Galgut’s novel, the Booker Prize 2021 shortlist has been announced, read the titles now

The power of a great novel should not be underestimated. Books not only evoke imagination; they also take us to a completely new world, allow us to put ourselves in other people’s shoes and enrich our lives in ways that many other things are unable to do.

This is why literary awards are an exciting time to discover new works of fiction and authors that you may otherwise not reach for. Whether it’s David Diop’s International Booker Prize-winning novel At Night All Blood Is Black (£7.20, Blackwells.co.uk) of this year’s Women’s Prize for Fiction crowned title Piranesi by Susanna Clarke (£8.36, Bookshop.org).

Maar, if your reading list is in need of a real overhaul, then you’ll be glad to learn that the Booker Prize for Fiction shortlist has just been announced and this year’s gongs have highlighted a dazzling array of literature.

The prize recognises the best fiction written in the English language and published in the UK and Ireland between 1 October 2020 en 30 September 2021. And this year’s collection covers an extensive range of genres and themes, including loss, race and prejudice, as well as engaging with a diverse range of settings from across the globe, allowing you to travel and learn with every page.

This year’s judges include Maya Jasanoff (chair), Horatia Harrod, Natascha McElhone, Chigozie Obioma, and Archbishop Rowan Williams. And they had the near-impossible task of whittling a stellar longlist to a line-up of just six titles, which includes one debut novelist, Patricia Lockwood.

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The news comes after last year’s winner, Douglas Stuart, took the crown for his novel Shuggie Bain (£10, Amazon.co.uk). Set in working-class Glasgow, it follows the heartbreaking and emotive relationship between Hugh “Shuggie” Bain and his mother, Agnes. The novel sold more than 25,000 copies in the UK in the first full week after the announcement.

Maar, in honour of this year’s shortlist, we’ve taken a look at the novels. Join us in championing and supporting these writers by reading their inspiring and remarkable novels, which will stay with you long after you’ve put them down. The winner will be announced on Wednesday 3 November, so you’ve not got long to get through them all.

‘A Passage North’ by Anuk Arudpragasam, published by Granta Books

From the award-winning author of The Story of a Brief Marriage (£7.05, Amazon.co.uk) comes this novel of desire, loss and the legacy of civil war. It follows Krishan’s journey from Colombo into Sri Lanka’s war-torn northern province for the funeral of his grandmother’s former caregiver. Exploring themes of communities, individuals and divided cultural identities, the judges called it “quiet by serendipity, possessing its power not on its face, but in hidden, subterranean places”.

‘The Promise’ by Damon Galgut, published by Chatto & Windus

Examining a dysfunctional white South African family living on a farm, The Promise is set during four funerals across four decades and exposes the anguish at the centre of the characters’ lives. Galgut cleverly reinvents the role of the narrator here, shifting from traditional narration to directly addressing the reader – sliding between characters and in and out of personae. It’s said to be a convincing and heartfelt novel.

‘No One Is Talking About This’ by Patricia Lockwood, published by Bloomsbury Circus

American poet Lockwood tells the story of how one woman’s life is turned upside down when something she posts on social media goes viral. It’s an exciting debut that was shortlisted for the Women’s Prize for Fiction award.

Equal parts witty and unexpected, No One Is Talking About This covers internet culture and human connection in a wry and intelligent way. Lockwood takes risks while making sure her book retains plenty of warmth and provides insight into human nature.

‘The Fortune Men’ by Nadifa Mohamed, published by Penguin Books

Based on a real-life case from 1952, The Fortune Man is a masterpiece in storytelling. It tells of Mahmood Mattan, a Somali sailor who is wrongfully convicted of the murder of Lily Volpert and was one of the last men to be executed in Wales. It’s full of rich characters and Mohamed’s ability to examine the blistering racial injustices of the time is sobering and immense. Its a story about the past that has great relevance for the present day.

‘Bewilderment’ by Richard Powers, published by Cornerstone

This novel follows a widowed astrobiologist, Theo Byrne, and his nine-year-old son, Robin, who has a lesser-known health condition. Set in the near future amid Earth’s slow deterioration, it tells the story of what we must do when faced with the need to keep those we love safe.

‘Great Circle’ by Maggie Shipstead, published by Transworld Publishers

Shipstead spent seven years writing her third novel, which offers a thrilling story of the life of a fearless female aviator who disappeared in 1950 while attempting a north-to-south circumnavigation of the earth, and an actor who portrays her on screen decades later. It’s a soaring novel that will undoubtedly grip you.

“Absorbing in the manner of the immersive realist novels of the 19th century, the book speaks to ever-present questions about freedom and constraint in womens’ lives,” praised the judges.


For the latest discounts on audiobooks, try the link below:

Unsure what to read next? Take a look at our guide to the Women’s Prize for Fiction winners

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