Books

Canadians Mary Lawson and Rachel Cusk make 2021 Booker Prize longlist

The £50,000 ($86,698 Cdn) Booker Prize annually recognizes the best original novel written in the English language and published in the U.K. 
Canadians Mary Lawson (left) and Rachel Cusk are two of the 13 writers longlisted for the 2021 Booker Prize. (Nathaniel Mobbs, Siemon Scamell-Katz)

Two Canadian writers have made the 2021 Booker Prize longlist: Mary Lawson and Rachel Cusk.

The £50,000 ($86,698 Cdn) Booker Prize annually recognizes the best original novel written in the English language and published in the U.K. 

Lawson is longlisted for A Town Called Solace.

A Town Called Solace is a novel told from three different perspectives: Clara, a young woman who sits at her window, waiting for her missing sister to return home, Liam, Clara's new neighbour who Clara watches with suspicion, and Mrs. Orchard, the old woman who owns the house Liam is staying in. As their stories unfold, so does the mystery of what happened to Clara's sister and how Mrs. Orchard and Liam are connected.

Mary Lawson is an acclaimed novelist who grew up in Ontario and now lives in the U.K. Her other novels include Crow LakeThe Other Side of the Bridge and Road EndsCrow Lake won the Amazon Canada First Novel Award.

Mary Lawson talks to Shelagh Rogers about A Town Called Solace. 22:08

Cusk is longlisted for Second Place

Second Place is a novel about a woman who invites a famous artist to her remote coastal town. She hopes that his vision and talent will change her life, and her perspective on things. What unfolds is a study of humanity, beauty and connection, as the novel explores how our internal and external lives are connected.

Cusk is a Canadian-born novelist who lives in the U.K. She is best known for her Outline trilogy, which includes the novels Outline, Transit and Kudos. Both Outline and Transit were shortlisted for the Scotiabank Giller Prize, in 2015 and 2017, respectively.

The complete 13-book longlist is:

"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," jury chair Maya Jasonoff said in a press statement. 

"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.

"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 2021 jury is comprised of American Harvard professor Jasonoff, British theological writer and scholar Dr. Rowan Williams, Nigerian writer Chigozie Obioma, British actor Natascha McElhone and British journalist Horatia Harrod.

The shortlist of six titles will be announced on Sept. 14, 2021. The winner will be announced on Nov. 3, 2021.

No Canadians were recognized for the 2020 prize. Since 2013, authors from any nationality have been eligible.

Margaret Atwood shared the 2019 prize with British novelist Bernardine Evaristo. Atwood was recognized for her novel The Testaments, and Evaristo for her novel Girl, Woman, OtherThey split the prize money evenly.

Two other Canadians other than Atwood have won the prize since its inception in 1969: Michael Ondaatje in 1992 for The English Patient and Yann Martel in 2002 for Life of Pi.

Margaret Atwood, Bernardine Evaristo jointly win Booker Prize

2 years ago
1:56
Canadian writer Margaret Atwood and British author Bernardine Evaristo split the prestigious Booker Prize after the judging panel broke the rules when they couldn’t pick. 1:56

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