Booker Prize 2021: Former winner Kazuo Ishiguro makes longlist for £50,000 prize

·3-min read
British author Kazuo Ishiguro (PA)
British author Kazuo Ishiguro (PA)

Former Booker Prize winner Kazuo Ishiguro leads the field for this years prize after the longlist of 13 books were announced.

The writer, who won in 1989 for The Remains of the Day, was nominated for his book Klara and the Sun about an android who begins to connect emotionally with the humans around her.

He is joined on the list by authors from Sri Lanka, South Africa, American and Canada as well as the UK after the judges whittled down 158 novels to the remaining 13.

Five of the other novelists have already featured on either a longlist or a shortlist for the prize previously, including Damon Galgut, who has been shortlisted twice.

Also nominated is Francis Spufford whose book, Light Perpetual, tells the story of post-war London through the imagined lives of five children resurrected after they were killed when a World War II rocket hits south London.

Historian Maya Jasanoff, who chaired the judging panel, said: “One thing that unites these books is their power to absorb the reader in an unusual story, and to do so in an artful, distinctive voice. Many of them consider how people grapple with the past — whether personal experiences of grief or dislocation or the historical legacies of enslavement, apartheid, and civil war.

“Many examine intimate relationships placed under stress, and through them meditate on ideas of freedom and obligation, or on what makes us human. It’s particularly resonant during the pandemic to note that all of these books have important things to say about the nature of community, from the tiny and secluded to the unmeasurable expanse of cyberspace.

“Reading in lockdown fostered a powerful sense of connection with the books, and of shared enterprise among the judges. Though we didn’t always respond in the same way to an author’s choices, every book on this list sparked long discussions amongst ourselves that led in unexpected and enlightening directions. We are excited to share a list that will appeal to many tastes, and, we hope, generate many more conversations as readers dig in.”

The shortlist of six books will be announced on September 14 with the winner named on November 3.

The winner receives £50,000 and can expect to see their book shoot up the best-seller lists.

Last year’s winner, Shuggie Bain by Douglas Stuart, sold more than 25,000 copies in the UK in the first week after winning and was a best-seller around the world with a TV adaptation in the works.

Previous winners include Iris Murdoch, Salman Rushdie and Hilary Mantel.

The 2021 Booker Prize longlist in full:

A Passage North by Anuk Arudpragasam

Second Place by Rachel Cusk

The Promise by Damon Galgut

The Sweetness of Water by Nathan Harris

Klara and the Sun by Kazuo Isiguro

An Island by Karen Jennings

A Town Called Solace by Mary Lawson

No One Is Talking About This by Patricia Lockwood

The Fortune Men by Nadifa Mohamed

Bewilderment by Richard Powers

China Room by Sunjeev Sahota

Great Circle by Maggie Shipstead

Light Perpetual by Francis Spufford

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