Bookmarks: Rushdie and Atwood sock it out for Booker
A fortnightly look at books, writers and reviews
The Booker shortlist is announced in a fortnight and speculation is growing that the two novels to beat this year are Salman Rushdie’s Quichotte (Jonathan Cape) and Margaret Atwood’s The Testaments (Chatto & Windus), the long-awaited sequel to The Handmaid’s Tale. Both have yet to be released.
While there is tight security and much secrecy about Atwood’s book, the advance notices for Quichotte have been good, and suggest a return to form for Rushdie, who won the Booker in 1981 for Midnight’s Children, a novel so cherished by critics that it has twice been voted the best of the Booker winners.
Writing in the London Sunday Times, the critic Claire Lowdon suggested that with his “glorious reworking of Don Quixote”, Rushdie had proved himself a rarity: a writer who had produced his best work towards the end of his career, and not at the beginning. His last novel, 2017’s The Golden House, suggested, Lowdon wrote, that Rushdie was entering “that time of emptiness” and felt forced when compared to “the freewheeling vim” of his earlier works...