The leading literary award in the English speaking world, the Booker Prize will be awarded today with six authors up for the top prize. The Booker prize is awarded annually to the best novel of the year written in English and published in the UK or Ireland.
This year’s final nominees include Margaret Atwood for The Testaments, Salman Rushdie for Quichotte, Bernardine Evaristo for Girl, Woman, Other, Elif Shafak for 10 minutes and 38 seconds in This Strange World, Lucy Ellmann for Ducks Newburyport, Chigozie Obioma for An Orchestra for Minorities.
The six novelists, four of them women, born across four continents. It is also no longer called the Man Booker because of a sponsorship change. The winner of The Booker Prize receives £50,000 and, like all the shortlisted authors, a cheque for £2,500 and a designer bound copy of their book. According to the organisers the prize fulfills one of the objectives of the prize, to encourage the widest possible readership for the best in literary fiction, the winner and the shortlisted authors now enjoy a dramatic increase in book sales worldwide.
The five-judge panel includes Peter Florence as chair, writer-broadcaster Afua Hirsch, Joanna MacGregor, publisher Liz Calder, and the British-Chinese novelist and filmmaker Xiaolu Guo.
Canadian author Atwood’s sixth Booker nomination comes for The Testaments, a best-selling sequel to her 1985 dystopian classic The Handmaid’s Tale. Rushdie, who has already won the Booker Prize in 1981 for Midnight’s Children is up for the prize again with his classic Don Quichotte inspired story of an ageing travelling salesman who falls in love with a TV star and sets off to drive across America on a quest to prove himself worthy of her hand.
Nigerian author Chigozie Obioma’s An Orchestra of Minorities, set in Nigeria and Cyprus, is a tragic love story with a strong sense of foreboding throughout. Narrated by the main character’s chi spirit, the novel is deeply anchored in the mysticism of Nigeria’s Igbo people.
Lucy Ellmann’s Ducks, Newburyport is according to AFP, a story made up almost entirely of one sentence that absorbs readers and is occasionally funny. It is a stream of thoughts from a woman making pies in her home in Ohio. The musings weave between her family, US politics, her dead parents and pets, pollution in rivers, and are interspersed with references to pop culture.
Anglo-Nigerian author Bernardine Evaristo’s Girl, Woman, Other is about the lives of black British families with roots across the country, Africa and the Caribbean. It tells the tale of 12 women that “brims with vitality,” according to the Financial Times.
Elif Shafak, the most widely read female author in Turkey, brings Istanbul’s underworld to life through the recollections of sex worker Tequila Leila in 10 Minutes 38 Seconds in This Strange World. The entire work describes the last 10 minutes of conscious thought of a dying prostitute that The Times calls “surprisingly uplifting.”
This year’s International Booker Prize was awarded to Marilyn Booth, Jokha al-Harthi for her book Celestial Bodies. The award which is given annually for a single book, translated into English and published in the UK or Ireland. The work of translators is celebrated, with the prize money divided equally between the author and translator.