The 2021 Booker Prize shortlist has been revealed—and includes two African authors for the second time in as many years: South African author Damon Galgut and Somali–British author Nadifa Mohamed, for their novels The Promise and The Fortune Men, respectively.
Last year, Zimbabwean Tsitsi Dangarembga and Ethiopian–American Maaza Mengiste made the prize’s final six, for their novels This Mournable Body and The Shadow King, but it was Scot Douglas Stuart’s Shuggie Bain that took the prize.
South Africans had pinned their hopes on a double shortlisting this year, with Karen Jennings’ An Island making a strong run on to the 2021 longlist, but it was not to be. Also missing out were notable names Rachel Cusk and Kazuo Ishiguro, while the 2018 winner Richard Powers secured a shot at a second Booker. Meanwhile, this is Galgut’s third shortlisting: his novel The Good Doctor appeared on the 2003 shortlist, while In a Strange Room appeared on the 2010 one.
Galgut’s South African publisher, Fourie Botha, said: ‘There’s a quiet, burning power in The Promise that takes your breath away; a book about land that can change the moral landscape of our country’.
2021 Booker Prize shortlist
- A Passage North, Anuk Arudpragasam (Granta Books, Granta Publications)
- The Promise, Damon Galgut, (Chatto & Windus, Vintage, PRH)
- No One is Talking About This, Patricia Lockwood (Bloomsbury Circus, Bloomsbury Publishing)
- The Fortune Men, Nadifa Mohamed (Viking, Penguin General, PRH)
- Bewilderment, Richard Powers (Hutchinson Heinemann, PRH)
- Great Circle, Maggie Shipstead (Doubleday, Transworld Publishers, PRH)
‘With so many ambitious and intelligent books before us, the judges engaged in rich discussions not only about the qualities of any given title, but often about the purpose of fiction itself. We are pleased to present a shortlist that delivers as wide a range of original stories as it does voices and styles,’ said chair of the 2021 judges Maya Jasanoff.
The winner of the £50,000 prize will be announced on Wednesday, 3 November. Here’s hoping it’s third time’s the charm for Galgut!