Books

Margaret Atwood's The Testaments nominated for British Book Award for best fiction

The British Book Awards recognize books and authors in seven categories. The awards, nicknamed the Nibbies, have recognized the best in British book publishing since 1990.
Margaret Atwood is the author of The Testaments. (Tolga Akmen/AFP via Getty Images)

The Testaments by Margaret Atwood is nominated for the 2020 British Book Award for fiction.

The British Book Awards recognize books and authors in seven categories: children's fiction, children's nonfiction & illustrated, fiction, fiction — crime & thriller, debut fiction, nonfiction — lifestyle, nonfiction — narrative, audiobooks, author of the year and illustrator of the year.

The awards, nicknamed the Nibbies, have recognized the best in British book publishing since 1990.

The Testaments is nominated in the fiction category.

Atwood's novel is a sequel to her 1985 classic The Handmaid's Talewhich left the fate of the oppressed narrator Offred unknown. 

The Testaments contains the "explosive testaments" of three women: a young woman growing up inside Gilead, a high school student living in Canada who wants to see Gilead fall and Aunt Lydia, a powerful woman who knows the inner workings of Gilead all too well. 

Atwood's novel broke Canadian sales records when it was released in September 2019 and is being developed for screen by Hulu and MGM Television

Margaret Atwood talks to Shelagh Rogers about The Testaments, the highly anticipated sequel to her 1985 bestseller, The Handmaid's Tale. 18:59

Also in the fiction category is Bernardine Evaristo for her novel Girl, Woman, Other. Evaristo co-won the 2019 Booker Prize alongside Atwood for Girl, Woman, Other.

Girl, Woman, Other tells the interconnected stories of 12 characters, most of them black British women. Each character is given their own chapter. Their stories overlap over a century of living as characters face their own unique set of dilemmas and choices.

The other fiction finalists are Cilka's Journey by Heather Morris, The Giver of Stars by Jojo Moyes, Lies Lies Lies by Adele Parks and The Secret Commonwealth Philip Pullman.

Two of Atwood's books were nominated in the audiobook category: The Testaments, narrated by six different actors, and The Handmaid's Tale, narrated by Elisabeth Moss, who stars in the TV adaptation. Neither of these versions are available in Canada.

The Bookseller website says that The Testaments was the fastest selling audiobook ever in the U.K.

They also administer awards for the publishing industry, such as bookstore of the year.

This year, they have an initiative called 30 from 30, which aims to recognize 30 of the most iconic books that have previously won a British Book Award, from the 30 years the awards have been given out.

A longlist of 30 titles was narrowed to a shortlist of 10 books, which includes Bridget Jones's Diary by Helen Fielding, The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown and Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone by J.K. Rowling. 

Atwood was the only Canadian recognized on the 2020 shortlists.

The winners will be announced on June 29, 2020.

They were originally supposed to be announced on May 18, 2020, but the awards ceremony was pushed back due to concerns around COVID-19.

You can see the complete shortlists on The Booksellers' website.

Atwood's next book will be the poetry collection Dearly, which is set to be published in November 2020.

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