LAST WEEK the announcement of the judges of the 2021 Booker Prize was made and the panel will consist of: writer and editor Horatia Harrod; actor Natascha McElhone; twice Booker-shortlisted novelist and professor Chigozie Obioma; and writer and former Archbishop Rowan Williams.
Born in Akure, Nigeria, Obioma’s two novels, The Fishermen (2015) and An Orchestra of Minorities (2019) were shortlisted for The Booker Prize making him one of only two novelists to be shortlisted for all of their work.
His novels have been translated into more than 32 languages. They have won awards including the inaugural FT/Oppenheimer Award for Fiction, the NAACP Image Award and the LA Times Book Prize, and been nominated for many others.
The Fishermen was adapted into an award-winning stage play by Gbolahan Obisesan that played in the UK and South Africa between 2018-2019 with runs at London West end’s Trafalgar studios, Edinburgh Fringe, HOME theatre in Manchester and Market Theatre in South Africa.
It is being broadcast as a newly recorded play for the BBC as part of its Lights Up season.
Gaby Wood, Literary Director of the Booker Prize Foundation, said: “If part of the Booker’s long-term effect is to encourage a range of excellence in new writing, it does so by showing that a welcoming group of readers exists for that work.
“The 2021 panel of judges is stellar in that respect: distinguished and exacting, open-minded and hopeful.
“They are led by an historian whose global view of literature and its context is eminently equal to this global prize.
“I can’t wait to hear them discuss the results of their reading together.”
Chair of judges, Maya Jasanoff added: “In the pandemic more than ever, reading fiction has been a great source of stimulation and solace.
“It’s both a pleasure and an incredible honour to get to roam the pages of this year’s Anglophone novels and shine a light on extraordinary books and writers — and to do so in the company of such accomplished fellow judges feels like a gift.”
The judging panel will be looking for the best work of long-form fiction, selected from entries published in the UK between October 1, 2020 and September 30, 2021.
The ‘Booker Dozen’ of 12 or 13 books will be announced in July 2021 with the shortlist of six books to follow in the autumn. The winner of the £50,000 prize will be announced in November 2021.