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Thursday, September 23, 2021

Booker Prize Longlist Is Unveiled

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LONDON: The literary heavyweights Kazuo Ishiguro, Rachel Cusk, and Richard Powers are among those in the running for the 2021 Booker Prize, it was announced here on Tuesday.

Ishiguro, who won the British literary award in 1989 for his novel “The Remains of the Day,” about a butler working for a Nazi sympathiser, was nominated this year for “Klara and the Sun,” about a 14-year-old girl who gets a humanoid machine companion to help relieve her loneliness.

The Booker Prize judges, led by historian Maya Jasanoff, were unanimous in their belief that the novel deserved a spot on the prize’s 13-strong longlist. “What stays with you in ‘Klara and the Sun’ is the haunting narrative voice — a genuinely innocent, egoless perspective on the strange behaviour of humans obsessed and wounded by power, status, and fear,” said the panel in a news release announcing the nominees.

Powers’ forthcoming “Bewilderment,” about a widowed astrobiologist struggling to care for his 9-year-old son, and Cusk’s “Second Place,” about a marriage that is disrupted when the wife invites a famous painter to stay, will compete for the prize.

Every year, the Booker Prize is given to the best novel written in English and published in the United Kingdom or Ireland. This year, four of the nominated writers are American, and the 13 novels on the longlist are notable for their range of subject matter and tone. The list also includes Maggie Shipstead’s “Great Circle,” about a woman who dedicates her life to flying and an actress who is set to play her onscreen, and Francis Spufford’s “Light Perpetual,” about the lives of five children caught up in a World War II bombing raid.

Several of the nominees deal with race, including Damon Galgut’s “The Promise,” about a white family in post-apartheid South Africa, and Nadifa Mohamed’s “The Fortune Men,” about a miscarriage of justice in 1950s Wales that results in the hanging of a British-Somali man for the murder of a white shopkeeper. Mohamed’s book has received favourable reviews in this country. “‘The Fortune Men’ can be read as a comment on 21st-century Britain and its continuing troubled legacy of empire, but it can also be read as a beautifully judged fiction in its own right — teeming with life, character, and humour,” wrote Catherine Taylor in The Financial Times.

The prize is as well known for launching literary careers in the United Kingdom as it is for bestowing honours on established names. Last year, Douglas Stuart won for his debut novel “Shuggie Bain,” about a gay child growing up in 1980s Glasgow with an alcoholic mother, and Bernardine Evaristo shared the prize in 2019 for “Girl, Woman, Other” with Margaret Atwood for “The Testaments.”

This year’s judging panel includes novelist Chigozie Obioma and former Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams.

According to Jasanoff, all of the books have “important things to say about the nature of community, from the tiny and secluded to the unfathomable expanse of cyberspace.” That theme struck a chord with the judges because of the pandemic’s isolation, she explained, which forced them to read many of the books during lockdowns.

The judges will now reread the 13 books before narrowing them down to a six-book shortlist, which will be announced on September 14. The winner, who will receive a prize of 50,000 pounds (approximately $69,000), will be announced on November 3 at a ceremony in London.

The full longlist is:

source

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