Booker Prize 2019 Longlist: Novels in English From Nine Countries

In Feature Articles by Porter Anderson First appeared in Publishing Perspectives.

The 2019 Booker Prize longlist comprises the work of a particularly international collection of authors, including two former laureates.

Longlisted authors in the 2019 Booker Prize for Fiction are, top row from left, Margaret Atwood (image: Liam Sharp); Kevin Barry (image: Conor O’Mahony); Oyinkan Braithwaite (image: Amaal Said); Lucy Ellmann; and Bernadine Evaristo (image: Jennie Scott). On the middle row from left are John Lanchester; Deborah Levy; Valeria Luiselli (image: Diego Berruecos); Chigozie Obioma (image: Jason Keith); and Max Porter (image: Lucy Dickens). And on the third row from left are Salman Rushdie (image: Beowulf Sheehan); Elif Shafak (image: Oliver Hess), and Jeanette Winterson (image: Sam Churchill)

Gaby Wood: Literature in English as ‘a Global Endeavor’

It takes only a slight edit to create what may be the bookish line of the year to date, offered by the chair of the 2019 Booker Prize for Fiction, Hay Festival founder Peter Florence: “If you only read one book this year … read all 13 of these.”

Eight women and five men have been named today (July 24) to the “Booker Dozen” longlist of 13 titles in the 2019 Booker Prize for Fiction cycle.

In an announcement released just after midnight BST, the Booker Foundation has named a roster that includes two former Booker winners—Margaret Atwood and Salman Rushdie—and one debut, written by Oyinkan Braithwaite, one of two Nigerian authors on the list.

And the tone of the commentary around the announcement emphasizes the Booker’s commitment to its “evolved” state, open to writers beyond the UK and Commonwealth, providing they were writing novels in English and published in the UK.

This is the change made at the end of 2013, intended, according to the foundation, “to embrace the English language in all its vigor, its vitality, its versatility and its glory.” The program has endured sharp criticism at times for its expanded footing, but with its new US-based sponsorship from the California-based Crankstart charity created by Michael Moritz and Harriet Heyman, there’s no sign of a retreat to the earlier, less internationalized approach.

Authors in this round of the 2019 program alone are from the UK, Canada, Ireland, Nigeria, the United States, Mexico, Italy, India, and Turkey.

The new longlist for the world’s leading prize for fiction in English was chosen from 151 novels published in the UK or Ireland between October 1, 2018, and September 30 of this year. 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 winner of the 2019 Booker Prize receives £50,000 (US$62,180) and normally benefits from a significant boost in sales and visibility, of course. In the week following the 2018 winner announcement—sales of Milkman by Anna Burns increased by 880 percent from 963 in the week prior to the announcement to 9,446 in the week following the announcement, then a further 99 percent (9,446 to 18,786) the following week.

“There are Nobel candidates and debutants on this list. There are no favorites; they are all credible winners.”Peter Florence

The total number of copies of Milkman sold, across all formats, is currently 546,500. Milkman has also now sold into nearly 40 languages, in Europe and many parts of Asia.

The shortlist of six books is scheduled to be announced on September 3 at a morning news conference in the British capital.

The shortlisted authors each receive £2,500 (US$3,109) and a specially bound edition of their book.

The 2019 winner is to be announced on October 14, shortly before this year’s Frankfurter Buchmesse (October 16 to 20) at an awards ceremony once more set at London’s Guildhall. The ceremony is expected to be broadcast by the BBC.

Booker Prize 2019 Longlist
Margaret AtwoodCanadaThe TestamentsVintage, Chatto & Windus
Kevin BarryIrelandNight Boat to TangierCanongate Books
Oyinkan BraithwaiteNigeriaMy Sister, The Serial KillerAtlantic Books
Lucy EllmannUSA/UKDucks, NewburyportGalley Beggar Press
Bernadine EvfaristoUKGirl, Woman, OtherHamish Hamilton
John LanchesterUKThe WallFaber & Faber
Deborah LevyUKThe Man Who Saw EverythingHamish Hamilton
Valeria LuiselliMexico/ItalyLost Children Archive4th Estate
Chigozie ObiomaNigeriaAn Orchestra of MinoritiesLittle, Brown
Max PorterUKLannyFaber & Faber
Salman RushdieUK/IndiaQuichotteJonathan Cape
Elif ShafakUK/Turkey10 Minutes 38 Seconds in This Strange WorldViking
Jeanette WintersonUKFrankisssteinJonathan Cape

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