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The 2019 Booker Prize shortlist has been announced and over half the nominees are women

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Megan Murray
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The 2019 Booker Prize Shortlist has been announced – and it’s very exciting.

Bookworms assemble; the next six books to hit your bookshelf have been announced in the form of the Booker Prize shortlist, and joyously more than half the nominees are female authors.

As one of the world’s most prestigious literary awards, with a legacy that goes back 50 years, to see women make up four of the six finalists (and two of the six people of colour) is heartening news. The list is a diverse one with authors like the iconic Margaret Atwood – with the highly anticipated sequel to The Handmaid’s Tale – sitting alongside writers like 33-year-old Chigozie Obioma, whose third novel has been shortlisted.

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Gaby Wood, literary director of the Booker Prize Foundation, said: “It was hard to watch the judges narrow down their longlist to this shortlist: they were so committed to all 13 of the books they’d chosen just over a month ago that the discussion was intense. Still, these six remain extraordinary: they bring news of different worlds; they carry a wealth of lives and voices; they’re in conversation, in various ways, with other works of literature.

“I think it’s fair to say that the judges weren’t looking for anything in particular – they entered this process with an open mind – but this is what they found: a set of novels that is political, orchestral, fearless, felt. And now, by association, those six will be in fruitful conversation with one another.”

Bernardine Evaristo, Chigozie Obioma, Elif Shafak, Lucy Ellmann, Margaret Atwood and Salman Rushdie will now all have to wait until 14 October to find out who will be awarded the title and £50,000 prize, but that gives us plenty of time to get cracking with this seriously good bedtime reading.

  • The Testaments by Margaret Atwood

    We’re not at all surprised that this incredibly exciting release has made the nominations list. Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale has been seminal feminist reading since being published in 1985 and since then has spawned into several TV adaptations, film, opera and graphic. The most recent – the 2017 Hulu version starring Elizabeth Moss – has not only captured audiences but inspired women’s rights marches and protests.

    Now the author is giving us another chapter of the story in The Testaments, which will pick up 15 years after Offred’s final scene in the original novel, and will be narrated by three female characters. Although the manuscript has been under lock and key, Booker Prize judges have described it as “terrifying and exhilarating,” while Atwood’s long-standing editor Liz Calder has said: “It represents not the work of a writer who might be at the end of her career but it’s like her peak, it’s amazing in that sense.”

    (Vintage, £15)

  • Ducks, Newburyport by Lucy Ellmann

    Lucy Ellmann’s Ducks, Newburyport has been touted as the most unusual entry to this year’s Booker Prize, comprising of an astounding 1,020 pages which hold only eight very, very long sentences. Each sentence starts with the words “the fact that” and continues for pages and pages at a time, being written from the perspective of  a middle-aged woman in Ohio who is stood in her kitchen baking. 

    The narrative drifts in and out of the present as her thoughts wander, detailing moments of her life such as her cancer diagnosis, her former career as a college teacher, the near drowning of her mother and much more. These thoughts are interrupted every now and then by passages from the perspective of a mountain lion, so as we said, definitely unusual. 

     (Galley Beggar Press, £12)

  • Girl, Woman, Other by Bernardine Evaristo

    Bernardine Evaristo is one of the UK’s most celebrated black women writers and her latest book, Girl, Woman, Other has had glowing reviews since it came out in May. The novel follows the interconnecting stories of 12 people, most of whom are black British women, all born in different decades with extremely different lives that somehow overlap. 

    It has been praised for tackling issues on feminism and race, giving sensitive insights into different faiths, social class and heritages. 

     (Hamish Hamilton, £13.99)

  • 10 Minutes 38 Seconds in This Strange World by Elif Shafak

    Internationally respected British-Turkish writer and speaker Elif Shafak’s tale of a sex worker who dies alone by a rubbish dump in Instanbul is a powerful and moving look at the harrowing reality of those affected by and victim to sexual violence. 

    (Viking, £11.75)

  • Quichotte by Salman Rushdie

    Best-selling author Salman Rushdie’s 12th novel is an epic modern retelling of Don Quixote, the 1605 Spanish novel by Miguel de Cervantes which is considered to be one of the most influential works of Spanish literature ever. The story follows a nobleman who indulges in romantic tales of heroes and princesses so often that he eventually loses his grip on reality, becoming an embodiment of the books he reads. 

    (Jonathan Cape, £14.99)

  • An Orchestra of Minorities by Chigozie Obioma

    An Orchestra of Minorities is only his third novel, but 33-year-old Chigozie Obioma from Nigeria has already been hailed as a literary master and great thinker for the way he depicts the issues in his homeland with vision, sensitivity and in his new book, comedy.

    (Little, Brown, £6.99)

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Megan Murray

Megan Murray is a digital journalist for stylist.co.uk, who enjoys writing about London happenings, beautiful places, delicious morsels and generally spreading sparkle wherever she can.

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