The Booker Prize is one of the most prestigious literature awards that the literary community of the world eagerly awaits. On the 27th of July this year, the Booker Prize websites released 13 books in Booker Prize Longlist of 2021. From this list they will shortlist 6 books which will be announced on 14th September. The final winner, who will receive a prize of 50000 pounds and worldwide publicity will be announced on 3rd November. Lets look at the novels in the Booker Dozen.
Set in the tumultuous decades of Sri Lanka’s civil war, this story follows Krishnan who ventures into the heartland of Sri Lanka’s northern province to meet his grandmother. All of this is set into motion by an email from Krishnan’s lost love Anjum, who informs him that his grandmother’s caretaker has passed away. Now Krishnan must navigate his way through his homeland to reach is grandmother, and in the process face desolation, abandonment and isolation.
This literary fiction novel is Cusk’s meditation on love and art. through the lens of human relationships. Cusk’s Outline trilogy which took a stunningly microscopic view at human connection is a beloved literary work in the book community. In her new venture, she tells the tale of a woman who invites an artist to stay with her, believing that his vision will give her a new perspective on her life and its mysteries.
Unfolding in the tropical capital city of South Africa, Pretoria, this novel revolves around an a privileged, fractured white family. In the wake of their matriarch’s death, the whole family gathers for a funeral, but the young generation is salty. They detest their family and most of all the unfulfilled promise the family has made to their Black maid – to give her freedom and a piece of land.
This novel explores the unexpected friendship that blossoms between two freedmen brothers during the civil war and a Georgia farmer couple. The Walkers are devastated by the loss of their son and the brothers have braved a gruesome war. There is also a parallel story describing the forbidden romance between two soldiers, which moves the heart. This historical fiction is one to watch out for.
This book is the latest addition to the Nobel laureate’s outstanding oeuvre. It’s set in a dystopian future where children are genetically engineered to be smarter and deliberately kept away from socialization. Klara is our protagonist and one such Artificial Friend. This novel, which has created a lot of buzz in the reading community, chronicles her experiences in the dystopian world.
They say that no man is an island, but this book follows one. The protagonist is a man called Samuel who lives alone on an island. That is, until a refugee washes up on the shore. This triggers memories of home for Samuel, and he recalls the colonial regime, the independence and dictatorship that followed, and the reasons he was compelled to seek isolation. This is a moving meditation on nationality, belonging and isolation, jam packed with haunting thoughts and a well woven story.
This cultural fiction has at its heart Ontario, Canada and explores the life of Clara within it. Clara’s family is dysfunctional and undergoing a crisis – her sister is missing, her parents won’t tell her why and her neighbour who’s hiding a mysterious affair. This story is a deep dive into each of these characters and will leave you wanting more.
This contemporary fiction has a bit of fantasy, but the issues it deals with make it seem not just real, but urgent and present as well. We follow a social media influencer touring the world to meet her fans as she discovers what she calls a portal. Here she begins imagining voices that she thinks impel her thoughts – on the climate crisis, loneliness and dictatorship. What ensues is a haunting exploration of grief, modernity, human connection and its loss.
Delving into the heart of the menace of racism in the States, this book traverses the timeline of the 1950s, telling the story of Mahmood Mattan. Mahmood is a petty criminal with a way with words and impeccable judgement. When he is framed for a crime he didn’t commit, it is the redeeming love of his wife and children and his belief in his innocence that will safeguard him against racism, prejudice and conspiracies.
This story is an intersection of eco-fiction, science fiction and literary fiction by the Pulitzer winning author of The Overstory. It follows an astrobiologist called Theo who has discovered a way to access planets and galaxies light years away. The other character is Theo’s son Robin, a sensitive, funny and delightful boy on the verge of expulsion from school. Theo sees no option to save the troubled boy than taking him on an interplanetary journey that will change both their lives.
It’s a matter of pride for India that an Indian has once again made his way to the Booker longlist. What’s more, it’s an Indian who has already been shortlisted for his previous book. Thus multigenerational historical fiction follows two timelines. The first is 1920s Punjab. Here, an intelligent young bride living in a patriarchal society fights against her odds (mainly her other-in-law) to identify her husband. She spends her life sitting in a china room. Here all she and her fellow women are cut off from contact with the outer world and its men. This is also the room that the young diasporic man stumbles upon after returning to his motherland, and tries to piece together the pieces of a broken past. This novel deals delicately but powerfully with trauma, and deserves its place on the longlist.
This historical fiction unfolds in the sweeping Prohibition era Montana and follows two siblings raised by their uncle. Marian falls in love with flying. At the age of 14, she drops out of school to pursue her dreams and fly over the north and south pole. Nearly a century later, Hadley Baxter is cast as the actress to play Marian in her biopic. Though in completely different geographies and histories, the two women’s destinies unfold symmetrically. This creates a wonderful story of love, ambition and womanhood.
Set in London during the Second World War, this follows a host of characters as they navigate their daily life. They crowd around aluminium saucepans to witness the first metal in ages, go about their turbulent yet ordinary personal lives and so on. Zooming into the life of a generation that witnessed tremendous transformation of ever kind – technological, social, sexual and human – Spufford crafts a masterpiece.
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