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And now for the Booker Prize short-list 2019

Out today, the 2019 Booker Prize short-list. A mix of well-known and not so well-known authors of different nationalities; British, American, Nigerian, British/Turkish, British/Indian and Canadian. Two literary superstars: Margaret Atwood and Salman Rushdie. Some names we have seen before: Elif Shafak and Chigozie Obioma. And two names that were new to us: Lucy Ellmann and Bernardine Evaristo.

Hardly anyone has been allowed to read Margaret Atwood’s The Testaments, the sequel to The Handmaid’s Tale and this autumn’s most anticipated novel. But the judges have obviously, and perhaps unsurprisingly, found it worthy of a place on the short-list. I, for one, will be scratching the door of my bookseller on the morning of the 10th of September to lay my hands on a copy.

Having had a peek, I know I won’t have the stamina to read Lucy Ellmann’s Ducks, Newburyport but can’t help but admire the ambition. Her novel is a 1,000 page tome written in ONE sentence. I tried a few pages and swiftly got a headache. Hats off to those who succeed.

Salman Rushdie’s Quichotte, the story of a salesman who falls in love with a TV star in contemporary, made it’s way to the short-list despite some pretty negative reviews. Will it be his turn again?

As you can see from our review, we had mixed feelings about Elif Shafak’s 10 Minutes 38 Seconds In This Strange World. We found that the change of tone half-way through this story about a dying Turkish prostitute ruined the flow of an otherwise beautifully told story.

Bernardine Evaristo’s Girl, Woman, Other follows 12, mostly Black British, women navigate modern life, marriage, family, racism and gender politics. More like a series of overlapping short-stories than a classic novel.

Perhaps the place to start (while we wait for the 10th of September) is Chigozie Obioma’s An Orchestra of Minorities, a story set in Nigeria of a snubbed lover who seeks to better educate himself after being rejected by his upper-class girlfriend. Obioma was short-listed a few years ago for The Fishermen, a book that’s been on my TBR list for quite a while.

All in all, not an overwhelmingly exciting short-list in my opinion, with the obvious exception of Atwood. We’ll have to wait until the 14th of October to find out who the winner is.

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