The Book Prize shortlist for 2021 has been announced and this year there are some brilliant novels set in Sri Lanka, South Africa, Cardiff Bay and the outer cosmos are among those nominated for the prestigious award.
The chair of the judges said choosing the six “immersive” books had felt “transporting in a year when so many of us have been confined to home”.
From BBC News:
The nominees in full:
- Anuk Arudpragasam – A Passage North. In his second novel, the Sri Lankan author explores the lasting effects of the trauma and violence of his country’s civil war, and a past love affair. “We felt that he was taking on with great seriousness this question of, how can you grasp the present, while also trying to make sense of the past?” said judge Horatia Harrod.
- Damon Galgut – The Promise. The South African writer’s ninth novel follows a white family over the decades from the Apartheid era. “The ultimate question that the novel asks is, is justice – true justice – possible in this world?” Obioma said. “If it is, then what might that look like?”
- Patricia Lockwood – No One Is Talking About This. This is the first novel by the American poet and memoirist. It follows a woman catapulted to social media fame, told using what Booker judge Rowan Williams described as the “unpromising medium of online prattle”. When reality impinges on this online existence, it ends up being a story “with intense, emotional energy and truthfulness”, he said.
- Nadifa Mohamed – The Fortune Men. Mohamed was born in Somaliland and raised in Britain, and her book is set in the docks of post-war Cardiff Bay. It fictionalises the story of Mahmood Mattan, a real Somali sailor who was wrongly accused of murder. “This is a story about the past that has great significance for the present,” said judging chair Maya Jasanoff.
- Richard Powers – Bewilderment. The US author won the Pulitzer for his last novel The Overstory. Here, a widowed astrobiologist turns to experimental treatments to help his nine-year-old son with additional needs – and take him to other planets. It is “a clarion call for us all to wake up and realise what our minds might be truly capable of if we were less obedient to the status quo,” judge Natascha McElhone said.
- Maggie Shipstead – Great Circle. Another American author, Shipstead’s third novel intertwines the stories of a daring post-war female pilot and a 21st century Hollywood actress who is trying to rescue her reputation by making a film about her. It “speaks to ever-present questions about freedom and constraints, particularly in women’s lives”, Jasanoff said.
The winner will be announced on November 3rd.