Ahead of the 2021 Booker Prize ceremony, here are the shortlisted titles to add to your reading list

The sky is blue, the grass is green and every year that passes unveils a new Booker Prize recipient. One of the most prestigious literary awards, the 2021 Booker Prize ceremony will be broadcasted from the BBC's radio theatre on Wednesday, November 3 at 7:15 - 8pm GMT, celebrating outstanding fiction of the past year. In order to be selected by the judges, a novel must be written in English and published in the UK and Ireland.

Ahead of this year's ceremony, we've compiled a list of the six shortlisted titles, including a brief synopsis, for future reading inspiration. Find the 2021 Booker Prize shortlist, below.


no one is talking about this - Patricia Lockwood


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Affectionately nicknamed the 'poet laureate of Twitter', Patricia Lockwood's first novel draws on her experience as a poet and author often submerged in the bowels of the online realm or 'the void' as she refers to it. The first half of no one is talking about this follows an anonymous, but 'extremely online' protagonist as they're pulled further into the depths of social media. That is until the protagonist experiences tragedy outside the online realm and their relationship to social media shifts - although not in a way you expect.

You may recognise Patricia Lockwood from her book of poetry Motherland Fatherland Homelandsexuals or her 2017 memoir Priestdaddy. All of her work is united by a common thread of the internet, with its cyber-dialect of niche memes, and social observations.


The Promise - Damon Galgut


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While death is often viewed as a closed door, in Galgut's novel The Promise, this inevitable life experience is how we are first introduced to a family living in South Africa. When four members of the household drop dead in quick succession, the living relatives chalk it up to a curse on the family due to a promise made long ago that was left unfulfilled.

Here the unfulfilled promise is a metaphor for the current climate of a modern, post-apartheid South Africa. Read Galgut's novel for commentary on the history of South Africa, familial ties and a dig at the question, what, if anything do humans owe each other?


The Fortune Men - Nadifa Mohamed


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The only British novelist to make the cut, Mohamed takes us to the docklands of 1950's Cardiff where Mahmood Mattan - a Somali sailor - is wrongly convicted of murdering a local shopkeeper and hanged. Based off of a true story, The Fortune Men is rich with observations about race, society and empire; pulling back the curtain on a harrowing injustice in Britain's not-so-distant past.


Great Circle - Maggie Shipstead

Great Circle is the third novel from US travel writer Maggie Shipstead. Here, she explores the legacy left behind of the women who pioneered travel, like Amelia Earhart. Through the fictional character of Marian Graves, an ill-fated and daring pilot, Shipstead probes the way we immortalise those who's deaths are surrounded by a large question mark. How does she achieve this? By introducing a second protagonist Hadley Baxter, who is attempting to revive her damaged reputation as a young actor by taking on the role of Graves in a Hollywood biopic. Spoiler alert: Baxter pushes the notion of artistic license in her performance as Graves.


Bewilderment - Richard Powers


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Richard Powers draws us into the dynamic of recently widowed father, Theo and his precocious, troubled nine-year-old son Robin. Both are plagued by grief and vulnerability but must cling to each other in order to weather the world closing in around them.


A Passage North - Anuk Arudpragasam


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In A Passage North we meet Krishan, a young Tamil man living in Colombo with his mother and grandmother, in the wake of the Sri Lankan civil war. In a country recently plagued by sudden death and destruction, Krishan's grandmother is somewhat of an anomaly, her age a triumph; so when her carer - a woman haunted by the death of her two young sons - suddenly drops dead, Arudpragasam primes the reader for a conversation about the lasting effects of grief and trauma on the body.

Finished with the 2021 Booker Prize shortlist? For more book-related recommendations, here are 10 other books the RUSSH team will be reading in 2021.

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