And while it’s hard to argue against the inclusion of Maggie Shipstead’s Great Circle – a terrific freewheeling novel about a fictional female American aviator – one can’t help but wish, if it’s transporting storytelling the judges were after, they’d opted for Francis Spufford’s absorbing Light Perpetual, which combines the lives of five children with the story of post war England, instead.
So there you have it. One clear leader and five variously compromised competitors. But let’s not run before our horse to market. For the Booker panel, of course, has a long and inglorious history of not picking the right book.
The 2021 Booker Prize shortlist in full:
Anuk Arudpragasam (Sri Lankan), A Passage North (Granta Books, Granta Publications)
Damon Galgut (South African), The Promise (Chatto & Windus, Vintage, PRH)
Patricia Lockwood (American), No One is Talking About This (Bloomsbury Circus, Bloomsbury Publishing)
Nadifa Mohamed (British/Somali), The Fortune Men (Viking, Penguin General, PRH)
Richard Powers (American), Bewilderment (Heinemann Hutchinson, PRH)
Maggie Shipstead (American), Great Circle (Doubleday, Transworld Publishers, PRH)
The Booker Prize winner will be announced on November 3