Books  |  Sep 3, 2019

Margaret Atwood and Elif Shafak shortlisted for the Booker Prize

Margaret Atwood’s The Testaments and Elif Shafak's 10 Minutes 38 Seconds in This Strange World have been shortlisted for The Booker Prize 2019.

The Booker Prize for Fiction is the leading literary award in the English speaking world, which has brought recognition, reward and readership to outstanding fiction for over 50 years. It is awarded annually to the best novel of the year written in English and published in the UK or Ireland.

Elif Shafak is an award-winning novelist and the most widely read female writer in Turkey. In addition to her work for freedom of speech and literacy, Shafak is known as a women’s rights, minority rights and LGBT rights advocate. 10 Minutes 38 Seconds in This Strange World details the last moments of an Istanbul sex worker whose corpse is left in a rubbish bin. The scent of cardamom coffee,
the taste of spiced goat stew – each memory recalls the friends Leila has made
at each key moment in her life.

The Testaments is the long-awaited sequel to The Handmaid’s Tale. It’s narrated by three female characters and set more than 15 years after Offred’s final scene – when the van door slams and Offred’s narration ends with ‘And so I step up, into the darkness within; or else the light’. It will be published on September 10th 2019.

Talking about the book, Margaret Atwood said: ‘Dear Readers: Everything you've ever asked me about Gilead and its inner workings is the inspiration for this book. Well, almost everything! The other inspiration is the world we've been living in.’

First published in 1985, The Handmaid’s Tale was shortlisted for the 1986 Booker Prize. Eight million copies have been sold globally in the English language, whilst handmaids have become an international symbol of female empowerment and resistance in the face of misogyny and the rolling back of women’s rights around the world. 

The winner will be revealed at a ceremony in London on 14th October. The full shortlist can be found here.