Books

Margaret Atwood's sequel to The Handmaid's Tale, The Testaments, shortlisted for 2019 Booker Prize

The award, worth £50,000 (approx. $86,990 Cdn), annually recognizes the best original novel written in the English language published in the U.K.
Margaret Atwood is the author of The Testaments. (McClelland & Stewart)

Margaret Atwood's forthcoming novel, The Testaments, is among the six titles shortlisted for the 2019 Booker Prize.

The award, worth £50,000 (approx. $86,990 Cdn), annually recognizes the best original novel written in the English language published in the U.K.

The Testaments is a sequel to Atwood's iconic 1985 novel The Handmaid's TaleIt is set 15 years after the original, which followed Offred, a handmaid whose sole purpose was to get pregnant with the child of the family she was serving. Offred wasn't always a handmaid, though, and the book ends with her future left unknown to readers. 

The Testaments has not yet been published. It will be released worldwide on Sept. 10.

Books published between Oct. 1, 2018 and Sept. 30, 2019 were eligible for this year's award.

The jury noted the strange situation of nominating a book that was not yet published. 

"There is a strange pleasure in knowing the secret of the publishing juggernaut that is The Testaments and an exquisite agony in being unable to share it yet," they said in a statement. "So this: it's a savage and beautiful novel that speaks to us today with conviction and power. The bar is set unusually high for Atwood. She soars. I can't wait for Saturday when everyone can read it."

No other Canadians were recognized in 2019.

This marks the sixth time Atwood has been recognized by the U.K. prize. She won the prize in 2000 for her novel The Blind Assassin and was nominated in 1989 for Cat's Eye, 1986 for The Handmaid's Tale1996 for Alias Grace and 2003 for Oryx and Crake.

The other titles shortlisted in 2019 are 

The shortlist was derived from a 13-book longlist.

The longlist was selected from 151 novels published in the U.K. or Ireland.

The winner will be announced on Oct. 14.

The 2019 judges are Hay Festival founder Peter Florence, former editor Liz Calder, novelist and filmmaker Xiaolu Guo, writer and broadcaster Afua Hirsch and conductor and composer Joanna MacGregor.

Last year's winner was Northern Irish writer Anna Burns for the novel Milkman.

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.

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