Published on Submitted by The Booker Prizes on Tue, 2019-07-23 23:27
For immediate release: Wednesday 24 July, 2019
The 2019 Booker Prize
@TheBookerPrizes | #FinestFiction |#BookerPrize2019
Of the 13 longlisted authors, eight are women and five are men
Two former winners, Margaret Atwood and Salman Rushdie, are on the list
Mexican/Italian Valeria Luiselli makes the list with her first novel written in English
One debut novel, Oyinkan Braithwaite’s My Sister, The Serial Killer, makes the cut
The longlist, or ‘Booker Dozen’, for the 2019 Booker Prize is announced today, Wednesday 24 July 2019.
This year’s longlist of 13 books was selected by a panel of five judges: founder and director of Hay Festival Peter Florence (Chair); former fiction publisher and editor Liz Calder; novelist, essayist and filmmaker Xiaolu Guo; writer, broadcaster and former barrister Afua Hirsch; and concert pianist, conductor and composer Joanna MacGregor.
The list was chosen from 151 novels published in the UK or Ireland between 1 October 2018 and 30 September 2019.
The Booker Prize for Fiction, first awarded in 1969, is open to writers of any nationality, writing in English and published in the UK or Ireland.
The 2019 longlist, or ‘Booker Dozen’, of 13 novels, is:
Author (country/territory) Title (imprint)
Margaret Atwood (Canada) The Testaments (Vintage, Chatto & Windus)
Kevin Barry (Ireland) Night Boat to Tangier (Canongate Books)
Oyinkan Braithwaite (UK/Nigeria) My Sister, The Serial Killer (Atlantic Books)
Lucy Ellmann (USA/UK) Ducks, Newburyport (Galley Beggar Press)
Bernardine Evaristo (UK) Girl, Woman, Other (Hamish Hamilton)
John Lanchester (UK) The Wall (Faber & Faber)
Deborah Levy (UK) The Man Who Saw Everything (Hamish Hamilton)
Valeria Luiselli (Mexico/Italy) Lost Children Archive (4th Estate)
Chigozie Obioma (Nigeria) An Orchestra of Minorities (Little Brown)
Max Porter (UK) Lanny (Faber & Faber)
Salman Rushdie (UK/India) Quichotte (Jonathan Cape)
Elif Shafak (UK/Turkey) 10 Minutes 38 Seconds in This Strange World (Viking)
Jeanette Winterson (UK) Frankissstein (Jonathan Cape)
Chair of the 2019 judges, Peter Florence, says:
“If you only read one book this year, make a leap. Read all 13 of these. There are Nobel candidates and debutants on this list. There are no favourites; they are all credible winners. They imagine our world, familiar from news cycle disaster and grievance, with wild humour, deep insight and a keen humanity. These writers offer joy and hope. They celebrate the rich complexity of English as a global language. They are exacting, enlightening and entertaining. Really – read all of them.”
Gaby Wood, Literary Director of the Booker Prize Foundation, adds:
“Watching the 2019 Booker Prize judges arrive at this wonderful list has been an invigorating experience. Firstly because they deemed the calibre of the submissions to be extremely high overall. Secondly because they reached far and wide in their search for the best fiction of the year, calling in (among others) Young Adult novels and books that are sometimes dismissed as ‘commercial’. Thirdly because they effortlessly absorbed the quality of the writing without ever considering the passport of its author. And lastly because, exercising their sharp minds and varied tastes, the judges weighed up each book individually yet produced a collection that shows the incredible range of what’s being written today. There are familiar names here writing at the height of their powers, there are young writers of exceptional imagination and daring, there is wit, incisive political thought, stillness and thrill. And there is a plurality that shows the making of literature in English to be a global endeavour. The 2019 longlist is a testament to its extremely good health.”
The eight female authors are Margaret Atwood, Oyinkan Braithwaite, Lucy Ellmann, Bernardine Evaristo, Deborah Levy, Valeria Luiselli, Elif Shafak and Jeanette Winterson. The five male contenders are Kevin Barry, John Lanchester, Chigozie Obioma, Max Porter and Salman Rushdie.
Five of the 13 longlisted books come from independent publishers including Faber & Faber (with two titles), Atlantic Books, Canongate Books and Galley Beggar Press. They are joined by Penguin Random House imprints Chatto & Windus, Hamish Hamilton (with two titles), Jonathan Cape (with two titles) and Viking; Harper Collins imprint 4th Estate; and Hachette imprint Little Brown.
The shortlist and winner announcements
The shortlist of six books will be announced on Tuesday 3 September at a morning press conference. The shortlisted authors each receive £2,500 and a specially bound edition of their book.
The 2019 winner will be announced on Monday 14 October at an awards ceremony at London’s Guildhall, one of the highlights of the cultural year. The ceremony will be broadcast by the BBC.
The winner of the 2019 Booker Prize receives £50,000 and can expect international recognition. In the week following the 2018 winner announcement, sales of Milkman by Anna Burns increased by 880% from 963 in the week prior to the announcement to 9,446 in the week following the announcement, then a further 99% (9,446 to 18,786) the following week. The total number of copies of Milkman sold, across all formats, is currently 546,500.
Milkman is also now sold in nearly 40 languages, both in Europe and throughout Asia and Anna Burns is in the process of negotiating a film deal. As well as winning the Man Booker Prize in 2018,
Milkman went on to win the Orwell Prize for Political Fiction, National Book Critics Circle Award for Fiction and was shortlisted for the Women’s Prize for Fiction and Rathbone Folio Prize in 2019.
The leading prize for quality fiction in English
First awarded in 1969, the Booker Prize is recognised as the leading prize for literary fiction written in English. The list of former winners features many of the literary giants of the last five decades: from Iris Murdoch to Salman Rushdie, Ian McEwan to Hilary Mantel.
The rules of the prize were changed at the end of 2013 to embrace the English language ‘in all its vigour, its vitality, its versatility and its glory’, opening it up to writers beyond the UK and Commonwealth, providing they were writing novels in English and published in the UK.
The Booker Prize is supported by Crankstart, a charitable foundation.
More information about the prize is available at:
@TheBookerPrizes | #FinestFiction |#BookerPrize2019
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Longlisted books: judges’ comments, synopses and author biographies
The Testaments, Margaret Atwood (Vintage, Chatto & Windus)
Judges’ comment: “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.”
Synopsis: The Testaments is set 15 years after Offred’s final scene in The Handmaid’s Tale and is narrated by three female characters.
Margaret Atwood was born in Ottawa, Canada on 18 November 1939. She is the author of more than 50 books of fiction, poetry and critical essays. She won the 2000 Booker Prize for The Blind Assassin and was shortlisted for the Prize with The Handmaid’s Tale (1986), Cat’s Eye (1989), Alias Grace (1996) and Oryx and Crake (2003). The Handmaid's Tale went back into the bestseller charts with the election of Donald Trump and the 2017 transmission of the award-winning TV series [It was a Hulu series, screened on Channel 4]. Sales of the English language edition have now topped eight million copies worldwide. Atwood’s further awards include the Arthur C. Clarke Award for Imagination in Service to Society, the Franz Kafka Prize, the Peace Prize of the German Book Trade and the PEN USA Lifetime Achievement Award. She has also worked as a cartoonist, illustrator, librettist, playwright and puppeteer. She lives in Toronto, Canada.
Night Boat to Tangier, Kevin Barry (Canongate Books)
Judges’ comment: “A rogue gem of a novel, Night Boat to Tangier is a work of crime fiction not quite like any other. The seedy underbelly of a Spanish port and a stony Irish town are the backdrop for a story of misdeeds, madness and loss that swells with poetry and pathos.”
Synopsis: It’s late one night at the Spanish port of Algeciras and two fading Irish gangsters are waiting on the boat from Tangier. A lover has been lost, a daughter has gone missing, their world has come asunder. Can it be put together again?
This is a novel drenched in sex and death and narcotics, in sudden violence and old magic, but it is obsessed, above all, with the mysteries of love. A tragicomic masterwork from a multi-award-winning writer, Night Boat to Tangier is both mordant and hilarious, lyrical yet laden with menace.
Kevin Barry was born in Limerick, Ireland on 25 June 1969. He is the author of the novels Beatlebone and City of Bohane and two short story collections. He was awarded the Rooney Prize in 2007 and won the Sunday Times EFG Short Story Prize in 2012. For City of Bohane he won the International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award, the European Prize for Literature and the Authors' Club First Novel Prize, and was shortlisted for the Costa First Novel Award and the Irish Book Awards. His second novel Beatlebone was the winner of the Goldsmiths Prize and was shortlisted for the Irish Book Awards. He lives in Ireland.
My Sister, The Serial Killer, Oyinkan Braithwaite (Atlantic Books)
Judges’ comment: “My Sister, The Serial Killer is as skilful, sharp and engaging a debut as any first novelist can produce. The prose is as pointed as a lethal weapon in this funny, tragic and wildly entertaining book.”
Synopsis: When Korede's dinner is interrupted one night by a distress call from her sister, Ayoola, she knows what's expected of her: bleach, rubber gloves, nerves of steel and a strong stomach. This'll be the third boyfriend Ayoola's dispatched in, quote, self-defence and the third mess that her lethal little sibling has left Korede to clear away. She should probably go to the police for the good of the menfolk of Nigeria, but she loves her sister and, as they say, family always comes first. Until, that is, Ayoola starts dating the fit doctor where Korede works as a nurse. Korede's long been in love with him, and isn't prepared to see him wind up with a knife in his back: but to save one would mean sacrificing the other...
Oyinkan Braithwaite was born in Lagos, Nigeria on 21 March 1988. She is a graduate of Creative Writing and Law from Kingston University London. Following her degree, she worked as an assistant editor at the Nigerian publishing house Kachifo and has been freelancing as a writer and editor since. She has had short stories published in anthologies and has also self-published work. In 2014, she was shortlisted as a top ten spoken word artist in the Eko Poetry Slam. Her debut novel, My Sister, The Serial Killer was shortlisted for the 2019 Women’s Prize for Fiction. She lives in Nigeria.
Ducks, Newburyport, Lucy Ellmann (Galley Beggar Press)
Judges’ comment: “The unstoppable monologue of an Ohio housewife in Lucy Ellmann’s extraordinary Ducks, Newburyport is like nothing you’ve ever read before. A cacophony of humour, violence, and Joycean word play, it engages – furiously – with the detritus of domesticity as well as Trump’s America. This audacious and epic novel is brilliantly conceived, and challenges the reader with its virtuosity and originality.”
Synopsis: Latticing one cherry pie after another, an Ohio housewife tries to bridge the gaps between reality and the torrent of meaningless info that is the United States of America. She worries about her children, her dead parents, African elephants, the bedroom rituals of “happy couples”, Weapons of Mass Destruction, and how to hatch an abandoned wood pigeon egg. Is there some trick to surviving survivalists? School shootings? Medical debts? Franks ’n’ beans? A scorching indictment of America’s barbarity, past and present, and a lament for the way we are sleepwalking into environmental disaster, Ducks, Newburyport is a heresy, a wonder—and a revolution in the novel.
Lucy Ellmann was born in Illinois, USA on 18 October 1956, and moved to England as a teenager. Her first novel, Sweet Desserts, won the Guardian Fiction Prize. It was followed by Man or Mango?: A Lament, Orange Prize-longlisted Dot in the Universe and Doctors & Nurses. She lives in Edinburgh.
Girl, Woman, Other, Bernardine Evaristo (Penguin General, Hamish Hamilton)
Judges’ comment: “A wonderful verse novel about the lives of black British women, their struggles, laughter, longings and loves. Evaristo manages to depict a vast collective of intergenerational stories moving through different spaces with a dazzling rhythm. Her prose is passionate, poetic, brimming with energy and humour. It is a great novel about womanhood and modern Britain.”
Synopsis: Girl, Woman, Other follows the lives and struggles of 12 very different characters. Mostly women, black and British, they tell the stories of their families, friends and lovers, across the country and through the years. Joyfully polyphonic and vibrantly contemporary, this is a gloriously new kind of history, a novel of our times: celebratory, ever-dynamic and utterly irresistible.
Bernardine Evaristo was born in London in 1959. She is the Anglo-Nigerian author of seven other books of fiction and verse that explore aspects of the African diaspora: past, present, real, imagined. Her writing also spans short fiction, reviews, essays, drama and writing for BBC radio. She is Professor of Creative Writing at Brunel University London and Vice Chair of the Royal Society of Literature. As a literary activist for inclusion she has founded several successful initiatives including Spread the Word writer development agency (1995 – ongoing); The Complete Works mentoring scheme for poets of colour (2007-2017) and the Brunel International African Poetry Prize (2012 – ongoing). She was awarded an MBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honours List in 2009. She lives in London.
The Wall, John Lanchester (Faber & Faber)
Judges’ comment: “A thriller that takes the definitive political issues of our time – climate change, populism and immigration – and crafts them into a compelling story that is chillingly familiar and imaginatively dystopian.”
Synopsis: The Wall is a thrilling and hypnotic work of fiction: a mystery story, a love story, a war story and a story about a voyage. Kavanagh begins his life patrolling the Wall. If he’s lucky, if nothing goes wrong, he has only two years of this: 729 more nights. The best thing that can happen is that he survives and gets off the Wall and never has to spend another day of his life anywhere near it. He longs for this to be over; longs to be somewhere else.
The Wall is a novel about why the young are right to distrust the old. It’s about a broken world you will recognise as your own – and about what might be found when all is lost.
John Lanchester was born in Hamburg, Germany on 25 February 1962. He is a contributing editor to the London Review of Books and a regular contributor to the New Yorker. He has written four novels, including The Booker Prize 1996-longlisted The Debt to Pleasure and three works of non-fiction. His books have won the Hawthornden Prize, the Whitbread First Novel Prize, the E. M. Forster Award and the Premi Llibreter, and been translated into twenty-five languages. He lives in London.
The Man Who Saw Everything, Deborah Levy (Penguin General, Hamish Hamilton)
Judges’ comment: “A masterfully controlled novel about old and new Europe and how people move through political landscapes, personal histories and memories. In a playful and complex structure, the characters breathe an atmosphere of pop culture and post-Marxist ideology. Levy offers a mesmerising and often surreal slice of reality, and her commentary on history is subtle, humorous, and deeply reflective.”
Synopsis: In 1989, Saul is hit by a car on the Abbey Rd crossing. He is fine; he gets up and goes to see his girlfriend, Jennifer. They have sex and then break up. He leaves for the GDR, where he will have more sex (with several members of the same family), harvest mushrooms in the rain, bury his dead father in a matchbox and get on the wrong side of the Stasi.
In 2016, Saul is hit by a car on the Abbey Rd crossing. He is not fine at all; he is rushed to hospital and spends the following days in and out of consciousness, in and out of history. Jennifer is sitting by his bedside. His very-much-not-dead father is sitting by his bedside. Someone important is missing.
Deborah Levy presents an ambitious, playful and totally electrifying novel about what we see and what we fail to see, about carelessness and the harm we do to others, about the weight of history and our ruinous attempts to shrug it off.
Deborah Levy was born in Johannesburg, South Africa in 1959. She is a British playwright, novelist and poet. She is the author of two Man Booker shortlisted novels: Hot Milk (2016) and Swimming Home (2011). She has also written five further novels, an acclaimed collection of short stories, Black Vodka (2013), and two 'living autobiographies', Things I Don't Want To Know and The Cost of Living. She has written for the Royal Shakespeare Company and is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature. She lives in London.
Lost Children Archive, Valeria Luiselli (Harper Collins, 4th Estate)
Judges’ comment: “In this intriguing and innovative novel, a recently assembled family of two adults and two children pack up their belongings and drive from New York City towards Arizona. The adults' relationship is clearly fraying and the children are soon bored in the back seat so they run away and get lost. Meanwhile a group of Mexican children is trying to cross the border into the US. Wildly imaginative, bold and mysterious, this novel of painful truths is also full of compassion, humour and love.”
Synopsis: A family in New York packs the car and sets out on a road trip. A mother, a father, a boy and a girl, they head south west, to the Apacheria, the regions of the US which used to be Mexico. They drive for hours through desert and mountains. They stop at diners when they’re hungry and sleep in motels when it gets dark.
Meanwhile, thousands of children are journeying north, travelling to the US border from Central America and Mexico. Not all of them will make it to the border.
In a breathtaking feat of literary virtuosity, Lost Children Archives intertwines these two journeys to create a masterful novel full of echoes and reflections – a moving, powerful, urgent story about what it is to be human in an inhuman world.
Valeria Luiselli was born in Mexico City on 16 August 1983. She is the author of the novels Faces in the Crowd and The Story of My Teeth, which won the 2016 LA Times’ Art Seidenbaum Prize for First Fiction; the essay collection Sidewalks; and Tell Me How It Ends, an essay about the situation faced by children arriving at the US-Mexico border without papers. Lost Children Archive is her first novel written in English. Her previous novels were translated into English from Spanish. She lives in New York.
An Orchestra of Minorities, Chigozie Obioma (Hachette, Little Brown)
Judges’ comment: “Told in the wise and watchful, sometimes mischievous voice of the “chi” or Igbo spirit guardian of Chinonso, a poor poultry farmer, this is a profoundly humane epic love story. Loosely based on the Odyssey, the trials and joys of Chinonso's journey exert a powerful hold on the reader's imagination, head and heart. A magnificent, original and revelatory novel.”
Synopsis: Umuahia, Nigeria. Chinonso, a young poultry farmer, sees a woman attempting to jump to her death from a highway bridge. Horrified by her recklessness, Chinonso joins her on the roadside and hurls two of his most prized chickens into the water below to demonstrate the severity of the fall. The woman, Ndali, is moved by his sacrifice.
Bonded by this strange night on the bridge, Chinonso and Ndali fall in love. But Ndali is from a wealthy family, and when they officially object to the union because he is uneducated, Chinonso sells most of his possessions to attend a small college in Cyprus. Once in Cyprus, he discovers that all is not what it seems. Furious at a world that continues to relegate him to the sidelines, Chinonso gets further and further away from his dream, from Ndali and the place he called home. Partly based on a true story, An Orchestra of Minorities is also a contemporary twist on Homer’s Odyssey. In the mythic style of the Igbo literary tradition, Chigozie Obioma weaves a heart-wrenching epic about the tension between destiny and determination.
Chigozie Obioma was born in Akure, Nigeria on 24 October 1986. He is an assistant professor of Literature and Creative Writing at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. His debut novel, The Fishermen, was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize 2015 and the Guardian First Book Award, and won several prizes including the LA Times’ Art Seidenbaum Award for First Fiction. Obioma was named one of Foreign Policy’s 100 Leading Global Thinkers of 2015. He currently lives in the United States.
Lanny, Max Porter (Faber & Faber)
Judges’ comment: “Max Porter’s poetic and beautifully-crafted book explores the dark violence of folk mythology, creating a haunting parable of contemporary England. The tenderness and purity of the young boy Lanny, the counterpoint of village dialogue and dangerous magic all create an urgent dreamscape. A visual delight as well as a compelling read, Lanny is thought-provoking, innovative and moving.”
Synopsis: There is a village outside London, no different from many others. Everyday lives conjure a tapestry of fabulism and domesticity. This village belongs to the people who live in it and to the people who lived in it hundreds of years ago. It belongs to England’s mysterious past and its confounding present. But it also belongs to Dead Papa Toothwort who has woken from his slumber and is listening, and watching. He is watching Mad Pete the village artist. He is listening to ancient Peggy gossiping at her gate, to families recently moved here and to families dead for generations. Dead Papa Toothwort hears them all as he searches, intently, for his favourite. Looking for the boy. Lanny.
Max Porter was born in High Wycombe, UK on 27 August 1981. His first novel, Grief is the Thing with Feathers, won the Sunday Times/Peters, Fraser + Dunlop Young Writer of the Year Award, the International Dylan Thomas Prize, the Europese Literatuurprijs and the BAMB Readers’ Award, and was shortlisted for the Guardian First Book Award and the Goldsmiths Prize. It has been translated into 27 languages. As an editor, Max Porter worked on Eleanor Catton’s Man Booker 2013 winning The Luminaries and Han Kang’s Man Booker International 2016 winning The Vegetarian. He lives in Bath.
Quichotte, Salman Rushdie (Vintage, Jonathan Cape)
Judges’ comment: “A picaresque tour-de-force of contemporary America, with all its alarms and craziness. Rushdie conjures a celebration of storytelling and language that will delight lovers of Cervantes, lovers of daytime television and lovers of life.”
Synopsis: Inspired by the classic Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes, Quichotte is the story of an aging travelling salesman who falls in love with a TV star and sets off to drive across America on a quest to prove himself worthy of her hand. Quichotte’s tragicomic tale is one of a deranged time, and deals, along the way, with father-son relationships, sibling quarrels, racism, the opioid crisis, cyber-spies, and the end of the world.
Salman Rushdie was born in Mumbai, India on 19 June 1947. His novel Midnight’s Children won the Booker Prize in 1981. In 1993 it was judged to be the ‘Booker of Bookers,’ to mark the 25th anniversary of the prize and in 2008 the ‘Best of the Booker’ to mark the 40th anniversary. His further awards include the European Union’s Aristeion Prize for Literature. He is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature and Commandeur de l'Ordre des Arts et des Lettres. In June 2007 he received a knighthood in the Queen’s Birthday Honours. He lives in New York.
10 Minutes 38 Seconds In This Strange World, Elif Shafak (Penguin General, Viking)
Judges’ comment: “Elif Shafak's audacious, dazzlingly original storytelling brings Istanbul's seething underworld vividly to life via the haunting and tender memories of sex worker Tequila Leila, recently dumped for dead in a rubbish bin. A work of fearless imagination, the story takes the reader into the vertiginous world of its irresistible heroine, whose bloody-minded determination and fierce optimism make her an unforgettable character. Courageous and utterly captivating, this is a telling novel of our inglorious times.”
Synopsis: For Leila, each minute after her death brings a sensuous memory: the taste of spiced goat stew, sacrificed by her father to celebrate the long-awaited birth of a son; the sight of bubbling vats of lemon and sugar which the women use to wax their legs while the men attend mosque; the scent of cardamom coffee that Leila shares with a handsome student in the brothel where she works. Each memory, too, recalls the friends she made at each key moment in her life – friends who are now desperately trying to find her. . .
Elif Shafak was born in Strasbourg, France on 25 October 1971. A British-Turkish novelist, she is the most widely read female author in Turkey. She writes in both Turkish and English, and has published 17 books, eleven of which are novels. Her work has been translated into 50 languages. Shafak holds a PhD in political science and she has taught at various universities in Turkey, the US and the UK, including St Anne's College, Oxford University, where she is an honorary fellow. She is a member of World Economic Forum Global Agenda Council on Creative Economy and a founding member of the European Council on Foreign Relations (ECFR). She has been awarded the title of Chevalier des Arts et des Lettres.
Frankissstein, Jeanette Winterson (Vintage, Jonathan Cape)
Judges’ comment: “Winterson plays with hybridity, gender, sex, technology and Romantic literature in a joyful comedy that examines the artifice of intelligence and how we get to redesign and reimagine the future of humanity.”
Synopsis: In Brexit Britain, a young transgender doctor called Ry is falling in love – against their better judgement – with Victor Stein, a celebrated professor leading the public debate around AI.
Meanwhile, Ron Lord, just divorced and living with Mum again, is set to make his fortune launching a new generation of sex dolls for lonely men everywhere.
Across the Atlantic, in Phoenix, Arizona, a cryonics facility houses dozens of bodies of men and women who are medically and legally dead… but waiting to return to life.
But the scene is set in 1816, when 19-year-old Mary Shelley writes a story about creating a non-biological life-form. ‘Beware, for I am fearless and therefore powerful.'
Spanning multiple timeframes, Frankissstein is funny and furious, bold and clear-sighted, exploring gender identity and the far-reaching consequences of the AI revolution we are already living through. What will happen when homo sapiens are no longer the smartest being on the planet? Jeanette Winterson shows us how much closer we are to that future than we realise.
Jeanette Winterson was born in Manchester, UK on 27 August 1959. Adopted by Pentecostal parents she was raised to be a missionary but left home at 16. After graduating from Oxford University she worked for a while in the theatre and at 25 published her first novel, Oranges Are Not The Only Fruit. She scripted the novel into a BAFTA-winning BBC drama. She has written 10 novels and a memoir, as well as children’s books, non-fiction and screenplays. She is Professor of New Writing at the University of Manchester, and in 2018 was made a Commander of the Order of the British Empire in the Queen’s Birthday Honours. She lives in a wood in the Cotswolds and in Spitalfields, London.
Notes to Editors
For each longlisted book there are judges’ comments, synopses and author biographies at the end of the Notes to Editors
Please find images of the authors and jackets here:
The 2019 longlist consists of 13 books. The rules state that a longlist of 12 or 13 books – ‘The Booker Dozen’ – is to be selected, followed by a shortlist of six. UK and Irish publishers may submit novels written in the English language and published in the UK or Ireland between 1 October 2018 and 30 September 2019. The number of books a publisher can submit will depend on that publisher’s inclusion in longlists over the previous five years, as follows:
Publishers with no longlistings – 1 submission
Publishers with 1 or 2 longlisting(s) – 2 submissions
Publishers with 3 or 4 longlistings – 3 submissions
Publishers with 5 or more longlistings – 4 submissions
This means that the number of submissions for each publisher may change from year to year. A new work by any author who has previously been shortlisted for the Booker (pre-2002) or Man Booker Prize (2002-2018) is automatically eligible
In addition, the judges ‘call in’ a number of novels each year: in addition to their main submission, a publisher may submit a list of up to five titles for consideration, accompanied by a justification from the editor. The judges are required to call in no fewer than eight and no more than 12 of these titles. The judges are also permitted to call in other books published within the requisite dates, even if the book has not been submitted through any other route
This is the second year that novels published in Ireland are eligible for the prize, following a change in rules announced at the start of 2018 that recognised the special relationship between the UK and Irish publishing markets.
Four Culture handles PR and event management for the prize and provides all administrative back-up
The Literary Director of the Booker Prize Foundation is Gaby Wood. The Administrator of the International Booker Prize is Fiammetta Rocco – Culture Correspondent at The Economist and 1843
Anna Burns won the 2018 Man Booker Prize for Milkman (Faber). In the week following the 2018 winner announcement, sales of Milkman by Anna Burns increased by 880% from 963 in the week prior to the announcement to 9,446 in the week following the announcement, then a further 99% (9,446 to 18,786) the following week. The total number of copies of Milkman sold, across all formats, is currently 546,500.
In 2019, the Booker Prize is chaired by founder and director of Hay Festival, Peter Florence, and the judging panel consists of: former fiction publisher and editor Liz Calder; novelist, essayist and filmmaker Xiaolu Guo; writer, broadcaster and former barrister Afua Hirsch; and concert pianist, conductor and composer Joanna MacGregor.
The Booker Prize for Fiction was first awarded in 1969 and was called The Man Booker Prize for Fiction when sponsored by Man Group from 2002 - 2018. For a full history of the prize including previous winners, shortlisted authors and judges visit the website: www.thebookerprizes.com
The International Booker Prize is awarded annually in May for the best single work of fiction translated into English and published in the UK, and was formerly known as the Man Booker International Prize when sponsored by Man Group. The £50,000 prize is divided equally between the author and the translator. Each shortlisted author and translator receives £1,000. The 2019 winner was Celestial Bodies written by Jokha Alharthi and translated by Marilyn Booth. Chaired by Bettany Hughes, award-winning historian, author and broadcaster, the 2019 panel consisted of: writer, translator and president of English PEN Maureen Freely, philosopher Professor Angie Hobbs FRSA; novelist and satirist Elnathan John; and essayist and novelist Pankaj Mishra
The Booker Prize Foundation is a registered charity (no 1090049) established in 2002. It is responsible for the award of The Booker/Man Booker Prize for Fiction and for the International Booker Prize /Man Booker International Prize. The trustees of the Booker Prize Foundation are: Baroness Kennedy QC (Chair) – former Chair of the British Council and Chancellor of Sheffield Hallam University; Nick Barley – Director of Edinburgh International Book Festival; Bidisha SK Mamata – writer, critic and broadcaster; Carol Lake – Managing Director, Philanthropy Executive at JPMorgan Chase; James Naughtie – broadcaster; Christopher Pearce – former Finance Director of Rentokil plc; Professor Louise Richardson – Vice Chancellor of the University of Oxford; The Rt Hon. Lord David Willetts – writer, ex-minister and advocate of fairness between the generations. Jonathan Taylor CBE is President of the Foundation and Sir Ronald Harwood, Baroness Neuberger and Baroness Nicholson of Winterbourne are Vice Presidents
The Booker Prize Foundation Advisory Committee, which advises on any changes to the rules and on the selection of the judges, represents all aspects of the book world. Its members are: Jonty Claypole – Head of Arts, BBC; James Daunt – Managing Director of Waterstones; Jonathan Douglas – Director of the National Literacy Trust; Adam Freudenheim – publisher, Pushkin Press; Peter Kemp – Chief Fiction Reviewer, The Sunday Times; Fiammetta Rocco – Culture Correspondent, The Economist and 1843 and The International Booker Prize Administrator; Michal Shavit – publishing director, Jonathan Cape; Eve Smith – Secretary, the Booker Prize Foundation; Boyd Tonkin – writer and critic; Helen Williams – Legal Counsel of Booker Group plc. It is chaired by Gaby Wood, Literary Director, The Booker Prize Foundation
Crankstart, the charitable foundation of Sir Michael Moritz KBE and his wife, Harriet Heyman, is the new supporter of The Booker Prize and The International Booker Prize. Crankstart has committed to an initial five-year exclusive funding term with an option to renew for a further five years. The new arrangement began on 1 June 2019 and saw the original prize return to being known as The Booker Prize, while the prize for literature in translation has become The International Booker Prize.
Moritz is a British venture capitalist and author, born in Wales. He studied at the University of Oxford and was a journalist before moving into the world of technology investment. He has been a partner at Sequoia Capital since 1986. He was appointed KBE in the 2013 Birthday Honours for services to promoting British economic interests and philanthropy. Heyman is a former journalist with The New York Times, and a writer.
Booker is the UK's leading food wholesaler with 198 business centres and a national delivery network. It serves over 441,000 catering customers, 94,000 independent retailers and 641,000 small businesses.
The Booker Prize Foundation has a longstanding partnership with RNIB (Royal National Institute of Blind People). The Foundation funds the production of the shortlisted titles in braille, giant print and audio, which the sight loss charity produces by the date the winner is announced. The accessible versions are then made available to the tens of thousands of blind and partially sighted members of the RNIB Library. People with sight loss have a limited choice of books in accessible formats and often have to wait much longer than their sighted peers for titles to be made available to them – and there are many more books that they will never have the chance to read. The Foundation is working with RNIB to change this story. For further information contact the RNIB PR Team on 020 7391 2223 or firstname.lastname@example.org
The Booker Prize Foundation has partnered with the National Literary Trust since 2012 to deliver Books Unlocked. The Foundation funds the programme, which has transformed the lives of prisoners and young offenders in the UK by helping them develop a love of reading. Prisoners are able to engage with high-quality writing as copies of Booker Prize shortlisted titles are sent out to prison reading groups. These same titles are also serialised as audiobooks on National Prison Radio, which is broadcast into c.80,000 cells, enabling still more prisoners to experience these exceptional stories. Authors go into prisons to discuss their writing directly with reading groups and many also record interviews on National Prison Radio. The shared vision for Books Unlocked is to bring about positive change in prisoners’ life chances. Since 1993, the National Literacy Trust has led the campaign to transform the future of the UK’s most disadvantaged young people by improving their literacy levels: literacytrust.org.uk/programmes/books-unlocked/
The Booker Prize Archive was given on loan in 2003 to Oxford Brookes University where it now resides