Nadifa Mohamed and Nathan Harris are on the longlist for the Booker Prize for fiction 2021 announced on Tuesday, July 27, 2021. Also on the Booker Dozen list are South Africans Damon Galgut and Karen Jennings.
The Booker Prize for Fiction, worth £50,000, is a literary prize awarded annually for the best original novel written in the English language and published in the United Kingdom. Since it started in 1969, it has been won by four Africans, Nadine Gordimer (1974), Ben Okri (1991), J. M. Coetzee (1999), and Bernardine Evaristo (2019). Some of those who have been shortlisted are Chinua Achebe (1987), Abdulrazak Gumah (1994), Ahdaf Soueif (1999), Achmat Dangor (2004), Marie NDiaye (2013), Chigozie Obioma (2015 and 2019) as well as Tsitsi Dangarembga, Maaza Mengiste, and Brandon Taylor (2020).
The 2021 judging panel is chaired by historian Maya Jasanoff alongside writer and editor Horatia Harrod; actor Natascha McElhone; twice Booker-shortlisted novelist and professor Chigozie Obioma; and writer and former Archbishop Rowan Williams. They have unveiled the Booker longlist or Booker Dozen of which Maya Jasanoff said;
“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. Reading in lockdown fostered a powerful sense of connection with the books, and of shared enterprise among the judges. Though we didn’t always respond in the same way to an author’s choices, every book on this list sparked long discussions amongst ourselves that led in unexpected and enlightening directions. We are excited to share a list that will appeal to many tastes, and, we hope, generate many more conversations as readers dig in.”
The longlist has two Black writers featuring in Nadifa Mohamed’s The Fortune Men and Nathan Harris’ The Sweetness of Water. Also on the list are South Africans Damon Galgut’s The Promise and Karen Jennings An Island. This will be the third time that Galgut features on the Booker lists.
The shortlist of six books will be announced on Tuesday, September 14, and the winner on Wednesday, November 3.