Handmaid's Tale sequel on Booker longlist
Margaret Atwood's The Testaments – not published until September – is chosen alongside 12 other 'credible winners' including Salman Rushdie and Jeanette Winterson to the 2019 Booker Prize longlist
Most readers will have to wait until September to find out what happens in Margaret Atwood's sequel to The Handmaid's Tale, but the Booker judges have deemed The Testaments worthy of a place on the 2019 longlist for the £50,000 literary prize.
This is the sixth time the Canadian novelist has been nominated for the Booker, and her second nomination since she won the UK's most prestigious literary prize for The Blind Assassin in 2000.The Testaments is set 15 years after the end of her dystopian classic The Handmaid's Tale. Out on 10 September, the novel's contents remain a closely guarded secret – with this year's judges, chaired by Hay festival director Peter Florence, only saying in their statement: "Spoiler discretion and a ferocious non-disclosure agreement prevent any description of who, how, why and even where. So this: it's terrifying and exhilarating."
Atwood will be competing with another former winner: Salman Rushdie, nominated this time for Quichotte. Inspired by Don Quixote and published in August, it sees an ageing travelling salesman falling in love with a television star and driving across America to win her hand. Judges called it a "picaresque tour de force of contemporary America, with all its alarms and craziness".
On a longlist packed with big names – but notable for its exclusion of well-received novels by authors including Ian McEwan, Mark Haddon and Ali Smith – Rushdie is one of several British novelists nominated. Alongside him are Jeanette Winterson for Frankissstein, her reinterpretation of Mary Shelley's Frankenstein; John Lanchester for his dystopia The Wall; Bernadine Evaristo's Girl, Woman, Other, a verse novel about the lives of black women; Max Porter's Lanny, the story of a missing boy in a commuter town; and Deborah Levy's The Man Who Saw Everything, which will be published next month and slips between time zones in what judges called "a playful and complex structure".
After tensions in previous years over changes to the prize's rules, widened at the end of 2013 to include US fiction, just one American novelist is featured: Lucy Ellmann. Born in Illinois, the Anglo-American Ellmann moved to England as a teenager, and was picked for Ducks, Newburyport, a 1,000-page monologue from an Ohio homemaker composed almost entirely of a single sentence.
The judges said that Ducks, Newburyport was "brilliantly conceived, and challenges the reader with its virtuosity and originality … A cacophony of humour, violence, and Joycean wordplay, it engages – furiously – with the detritus of domesticity as well as Trump's America."
The 13-book list also includes Turkish novelist Elif Shafak for 10 Minutes 38 Seconds in This Strange World, which details the memories of an Istanbul sex worker whose corpse is left in a rubbish bin; Irish author Kevin Barry for Night Boat to Tangier, which judges called "a work of crime fiction not quite like any other"; and Nigerian author Chigozie Obioma, whose An Orchestra of Minorities is loosely based on the Odyssey.
And Mexican-Italian writer Valeria Luiselli is nominated for her first book written in English, Lost Children Archive, which sets a family road trip from New York alongside the journey of a group of Mexican children attempting to cross the border into the US.
Just one debut is nominated, from the youngest writer in the lineup: 31-year-old Nigerian-British author Oyinkan Braithwaite's darkly comic thriller My Sister, the Serial Killer.
- The Guardian