The finalists this year were evenly divided between women and men. The Promise is Galgut’s third book to make the Booker shortlist, following In a Strange Room in 2010 and The Good Doctor in 2003. Bewilderment is Powers’ second appearance on the shortlist after The Overstory was named a finalist in 2018.
Three of the finalists are American, and only one is British, which may cause consternation in some quarters in Britain. In 2018, writers including Zadie Smith and Ian McEwan called for the Booker Prize Foundation to reverse a 2014 decision that made any novel written in English and published in Britain eligible for the prize. It was previously limited to writers from Britain, Ireland, Zimbabwe and the Commonwealth.
Gaby Wood, director of the Booker Prize Foundation, said Tuesday that she didn’t think it was appropriate to revert the prize to its old rules, especially since it would then base it on the bounds of Britain’s former empire. “It just doesn’t seem a conversation we should be having,” she said.
“I find it pretty remarkable in the 21st century that people are talking about the former British Empire as an appropriate container to think about literature,” Jasanoff added.
The judges will now reread the shortlisted books before deciding on a winner, to be announced at a ceremony in London on Nov. 3. Its author will receive 50,000 pounds, about $95,000.
The shortlist is:
- 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
The New York Times.