The longlist for the 2021 Booker Prize was announced on Tuesday.
The globe-spanning list of 13 books (also called The Booker Dozen) that make up this year's longlist includes:
- A Passage North, Anuk Arudpragasam (Granta Books, Granta Publications)
- Second Place, Rachel Cusk, (Faber)
- The Promise, Damon Galgut, (Chatto & Windus, Vintage, PRH)
- The Sweetness of Water, Nathan Harris (Tinder Press, Headline, Hachette Book Group)
- Klara and the Sun, Kazuo Ishiguro (Faber)
- An Island, Karen Jennings (Holland House Books)
- A Town Called Solace, Mary Lawson (Chatto & Windus, Vintage, PRH)
- No One Is Talking About This, Patricia Lockwood (Bloomsbury Circus, Bloomsbury Publishing)
- The Fortune Men, Nadifa Mohamed (Viking, Penguin General, PRH)
- Bewilderment, Richard Powers (Hutchinson Heinemann, PRH)
- China Room, Sunjeev Sahota (Harvill Secker, Vintage, PRH)
- Great Circle, Maggie Shipstead (Doubleday, Transworld Publishers, PRH)
- Light Perpetual, Francis Spufford (Faber)
"One thing that unites these books is their power to absorb the reader in an unusual story, and to do so in an artful, distinctive voice. Many of them consider how people grapple with the past — whether personal experiences of grief or dislocation or the historical legacies of enslavement, apartheid, and civil war. Many examine intimate relationships placed under stress, and through them meditate on ideas of freedom and obligation, or on what makes us human. It’s particularly resonant during the pandemic to note that all of these books have important things to say about the nature of community, from the tiny and secluded to the unmeasurable expanse of cyberspace," Chair of the 2021 Judges Maya Jasanoff said.
Others on the judging panel include writer and editor Horatia Harrod; actor Natascha McElhone; twice Booker-shortlisted novelist and professor Chigozie Obioma; and writer and former Archbishop Rowan Williams.
The list was chosen from 158 novels published in the UK or Ireland between October 1, 2020, and September 30, 2021. The Booker Prize for Fiction is open to works by writers of any nationality, written in English and published in the UK or Ireland.
‘In recent years Booker Prize longlists have drawn attention to various elements of novelty in the novel: experimentalism of form, work in unprecedented genres, debut authors. This year’s list is more notable for the engrossing stories within it, for the geographical range of its points of view and for its recognition of writers who have been working at an exceptionally high standard for many years," Gaby Wood, Director of the Booker Prize Foundation, said.
Five novelists have been recognised by the Prize before: Damon Galgut (shortlisted twice in 2006 for The Good Doctor and in 2010 for In a Strange Room); Kazuo Ishiguro (won in 1989 for The Remains of the Day; shortlisted in 2005 for Never Let Me Go, in 2000 for When we were Orphans and in 1986 for An Artist of the Floating World); Mary Lawson (longlisted in 2006 for The Other Side of the Bridge); Richard Powers (shortlisted in 2018 for The Overstory and longlisted in 2014 for Orfeo); and Sunjeev Sahota (shortlisted in 2015 for The Year of the Runaways).
Six of the longlisted books come from independent publishers: Bloomsbury, Granta, Faber, and Holland House Books. Faber has won the prize seven times before — the second-highest number of wins for any publisher, just behind PRH imprint Jonathan Cape which has won eight times.
The shortlist of six books will be announced on September 14. The 2021 winner will be announced on November 3.