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    The 2021 International Booker Prize Events >>

    The 2021 International Booker Prize Events

    When the world is turned upside down, how does literature respond? This year’s International Booker Prize shortlist offers the first worldwide survey of novels published since the worldwide pandemic took hold, and they offer plenty of food for thought. Across six powerful books, there’s a strong suggestion that writers are asking searching questions about the human race and its future on earth. At the same time, from the books shortlisted in this year’s International Booker it is abundantly clear that the familiar, centuries-old structure of the novel form is under serious interrogation.

    In order to explore their subjects, writers today are mixing memoir with flights of imagination; pure fiction with factual essay, and blurring boundaries between any other genres that are of use to them. In a weekly series of conversations with the shortlisted authors and translators, this partnership between the Book Festival and the International Booker Prize presents some of the most stimulating and thought-provoking writers and thinkers from across the world who have been published in translation this year. The results range from an unforgettable examination of memory and the colourful life of a Jewish family in Soviet Russia, to a speculative novel set on a spaceship 200 years into the future, which asks deep questions about the very meaning of human life.

    With interviews taking place each week in the run-up to the announcement of the International Booker Prize winner on 2 June, this is a rare opportunity to explore how novels are charting the progress of human history while it’s still in the eye of a storm.


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    At Night All Blood Is Black

    The prize-winning story of a Senegalese soldier in the trenches, told in hypnotic, powerful prose. Winner of the 2021 International Booker Prize.

    In Memory of Memory

    With the death of her aunt, Maria Stepanova is left to sift through an apartment full of faded photographs, old postcards, diaries, and heaps of souvenirs: a withered repository of a century of life in Russia. Carefully reassembled, these shards tell the story of how a seemingly ordinary Jewish family managed to survive the twentieth century.

    The Dangers Of Smoking In Bed

    A masterpiece of contemporary Gothic from the internationally acclaimed author of Things We Lost in the Fire.

    The Employees

    The crew of the Six-Thousand ship consists of those who were born, and those who were created. Those who will die, and those who will not. As human and humanoid employees alike come to long for the same things: warmth and closeness. Loved ones who have passed. Our shared, far-away Earth, which now only persists in memory.

    The War Of The Poor

    A short, brutal tale by the author of The Order of The Day: the story of a moment in Europe's history when the poor rose up and banded together behind a fiery preacher, to challenge the entrenched powers of the ruling elite.

    When We Cease To Understand The World

    A Guardian and New Statesman book of the year, now in paperback - the fast-paced, mind-expanding literary work about scientific discovery and the unsettled distinction between genius and madness