There are three African writers on the 2021 Booker longlist. They are Somali-British novelist Nadifa Mohammed for The Fortune Men and the South African authors Damon Galgut for The Promise and Karen Jennings for An Island.
The Booker Prize honors a single work of fiction in English with a cash prize of £50,000 to a writer of any nationality published in the UK. In its 52-year history, the prize has seen a fair representation of African authors. Among the judging panel for the 2021 prize is Nigerian writer and former Booker Prize-shortlisted author Chigozie Obioma.
Nadifa Mohammed’s The Fortune Men, her third novel, is set in Cardiff Tiger Bay in the early 1950s and follows a man who must prove his innocence in the wake of a gruesome murder charge. The novel was published by Viking, an imprint of Penguin Random House, in May 2021 and has received glowing praise from Junot Diaz and Women’s Prize-winning author Kamila Shamsie.
Dalmon Galgut, who has twice been shortlisted for the Booker Prize in the past, is nominated this year for his ninth novel The Promise, centered around a white South African family who must redeem a pledge made to their black maid. The book has received starred reviews from Booklist, Publishers Weekly, Kirkus Reviews and The New Yorker.
Karen Jennings An Island, her fourth, was written with support from the Miles Morland Foundation Scholarship in 2015. It follows an unsettling discovery by old lighthouse keeper of the unconscious body of a refugee on his beach. Jennings’ win is particularly dear to our hearts because her book was published by Karavan Press, an indie African publisher based in Cape Town. The importance of that sort of visibility for an African publisher is not lost on us.
Also on the long list of the 2021 Booker prize are former winner and Nobel Laureate Kazuo Ishiguro for his latest novel Klara and the Sun and American novelist Rachel Cusk for Second Place.
The judges praised the longlisted novels, 13 in total, for “the engrossing stories within it, for the geographical range of its points of view and for its recognition of writers who have been working at an exceptionally high standard for many years.”
A shortlist of six will be announced on 14 September and the winner in November.
Congratulations to Nadifa Mohammed, Damon Galgut and Karen Jennings. We are rooting for them and hope they all make it into the shortlist!!!
See the full longlist here.