Important questions about the past and the present


Take three Americans, a South African, a Sri Lankan and a Briton… put them together and what do you have? No, not the opening line of a poor joke, but the fine selection of authors whose books have made it through to the Booker 2021 shortlist.

The list is split by gender – three men, three women – and by range of experience: one debut novelist, one writer for his second book, two for their third and two previous contenders, one for his ninth published novel and one for his thirteenth.

Whichever way you look at it, it is, says Maya Jasanoff, chair of this year’s judges, ‘a shortlist that delivers as wide a range of original stories as it does voices and styles’. These are writers who ask important questions about the past and the present, and offer us wonderfully absorbing and enriching answers.

The winning book will be revealed on 3 November – so there’s plenty of time to get reading…

Anuk Arudpragasam – A Passage North

Damon Galgut – The Promise

Patricia Lockwood – No One Is Talking About This

Nadifa Mohamed – The Fortune Men

Richard Powers – Bewilderment

Maggie Shipstead – Great Circle