Mumbai-born Salman Rushdie's tragicomic novel 'Quichotte' is among six titles from around the world to be named on the shortlist of the 2019 Booker Prize for Fiction released in London on Tuesday.
The 72-year-old former Booker Prize winning British Indian novelist has famously also won the Booker of Bookers for 'Midnight's Children' during anniversary celebrations of the prestigious literary award.
This year he is shortlisted alongside another former winner, Margaret Atwood, besides Lucy Ellmann, Bernardine Evaristo, Chigozie Obioma, and Elif Shafak.
"Like all great literature, these books teem with life, with a profound and celebratory humanity," said Peter Florence, founder and director of the Hay Festival and Chair of the Booker Prize judging panel this year. The shortlist was selected from 151 submitted books published in the UK or Ireland between October 2018 and September 2019. "A picaresque tour-de-force of contemporary America, with all its alarms and craziness.
Rushdie conjures a celebration of storytelling and language that will delight lovers of Cervantes, lovers of daytime television and lovers of life," was the comment of a five-member judging panel in reference to Rushdie's latest work, which is inspired by the classic 'Don Quixote' by 16th century Spanish author Miguel de Cervantes. Canadian author Margaret Atwood is shortlisted for ?The Testaments', which the judges describe as "terrifying and exhilarating". Lucy Ellmann is shortlisted for Ducks, Newburyport', Bernardine Evaristo for Girl, Woman, Other', Chigozie Obioma for ?An Orchestra of Minorities', and Elif Shafak for 10 Minutes 38 Seconds in This Strange World'.
The judging panel said this year's shortlist offers an insight into different worlds from the dystopian setting of Gilead, the monologue of an Ohio housewife and the tragicomic tale of a travelling salesman in America; to mostly female, mostly Black, British lives across generations, the trials of a young Nigerian man on a quest to improve his prospects and true allegiances within the brothels of Istanbul.
Florence noted: The common thread is our admiration for the extraordinary ambition of each of these books. There is an abundance of humour, of political and cultural engagement, of stylistic daring and astonishing beauty of language.
"Anyone who reads all six of these books would be enriched and delighted, would be awe-struck by the power of story, and encouraged by what literature can do to set our imaginations free." Gaby Wood, Literary Director of the Booker Prize Foundation, adds: It was hard to watch the judges narrow down their longlist to this shortlist: they were so committed to all 13 of the books they'd chosen just over a month ago that the discussion was intense.
"Still, these six remain extraordinary: they bring news of different worlds; they carry a wealth of lives and voices; they're in conversation, in various ways, with other works of literature." Each of the shortlisted authors will receive 2,500 pounds and a specially-bound edition of their book. The 2019 Booker Prize winner will be announced on October 14 at an awards ceremony at London's Guildhall, with a winning prize of 50,000 pounds.
Last year's winner was Northern Irish writer Anna Burns for 'Milkman', which has sold around 546,500 copies in all formats since the award. 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 prize is supported for the first time this year by venture capitalist Michael Moritz and novelist wife Harriet Heyman's charitable foundation Crankstart, rather than the Man Group.