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.