Also making the list are debut novelist Patricia Lockwood with No One Is Talking About This, Anuk Arudpragasam for A Passage North, and Maggie Shipstead with Great Circle. Richard Powers makes his second shortlist appearance with Bewilderment.
“With so many ambitious and intelligent books before us, the judges engaged in rich discussions not only about the qualities of any given title, but often about the purpose of fiction itself,” said Maya Jasanoff, chair of the judges. “We are pleased to present a shortlist that delivers as wide a range of original stories as it does voices and styles.”
Published by Chatto & Windus | Publication date: 17 June 2021
Brutal emotional truths hit home in Damon Galgut’s deft, powerful story of a diminished family and a troubled land.
The narrator’s eye shifts and blinks, deliciously lethal in its observation of the crash and burn of a white South African family. On their farm outside Pretoria, the Swarts are gathering for Ma’s funeral. The younger generation detests everything the family stands for, not least the failed promise to the Black woman who has worked for them her whole life. After years of service, Salome was promised her own house, her own land, yet somehow, as each decade passes, that promise remains unfulfilled.
Damon Galgut is a South African playwright and novelist, who wrote his first novel aged 17 and has now been shortlisted three times for the Booker Prize. Two films have been made of his book The Quarry. He grew up in Pretoria, where The Promise is set, and now lives in Cape Town. When asked why he became a writer, he reveals he had lymphoma as a child, during which time he ‘learned to associate books and stories with a certain kind of attention and comfort’. He is currently working on a collection of short stories.
Published by Viking | Publication date: 27 May 2021
Nadifa Mohamed’s gripping novel about a petty criminal in Cardiff who becomes the last man to be hanged there, wrongfully convicted of murder in 1952.
Mahmood Mattan is a father, a chancer, a petty thief. Many things, in fact, but he is not a murderer. So when a shopkeeper is brutally killed and all eyes fall on him, Mahmood isn’t too worried – secure in his innocence in a country where justice is served. But as the trial nears, it starts to dawn on him that he is in a fight for his life – against conspiracy, prejudice and the ultimate punishment. In the shadow of the hangman’s noose, he realises that the truth may not be enough to save him.
Nadifa Mohamed becomes the first British Somali novelist to be shortlisted for the Booker Prize. The Fortune Men follows two previous widely acclaimed novels, Black Mamba Boy and The Orchard of Lost Souls. Mohamed has received both The Betty Trask Award and the Somerset Maugham Award, as well as numerous other prize nominations, for her fiction. She says she first became aware of Mahmood Mattan – the Somali man whose fictionalised story features in her book and who knew her father – in 2004, and kept checking back over the next 11 years as more information became available.
The longlist was chosen by this year’s panel of judges, including two-time finalist Chigozie Obioma, from 158 novels published in the UK or Ireland between 1 October 2020 and 30 September 2021.
The winning book will be revealed during the prize ceremony at the BBC Radio Theatre on November 3rd.