List of 70 books by Commonwealth authors announced to mark Platinum Jubilee

Margaret Atwood, Bernardine Evaristo and Seamus Heaney are among the literary stars to make the BBC’s 70-book list to mark the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee.

The Big Jubilee Read campaign was created to celebrate books by authors across the Commonwealth published during the last 70 years of the monarch’s reign.

A panel of librarians, booksellers and literary scholars chose the titles from a long list of readers’ choices, with ten books for each decade.

The list, which was created by BBC Arts and The Reading Agency, covers 31 countries and six continents.

Among the selection is Canadian author Atwood’s 1985 dystopian novel The Handmaid’s Tale, which was later adapted into an award-winning TV series by Hulu.

Evaristo’s Women’s Prize for Fiction winner Girl, Woman, Other was also on the list, along with Northern Irish poet Heaney’s 1966 collection Death of a Naturalist, which won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1995.

Life of Pi by Canadian author Yann Martel also features after his West End theatrical adaptation recently won numerous Olivier Awards.

The book was also adapted in 2012 into a blockbuster film starring Suraj Sharma, which won four Oscars including Best Director for Ang Lee.

The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood is one of the 70 titles selected. (Ian West/AP)

Indian author Arundhati Roy made the list with her 1997 novel The God of Small Things, which won the Booker Prize in 1997.

The 1962 cult classic A Clockwork Orange by English author Anthony Burgess is also among the titles alongside Midnight’s Children by British-Indian author Salman Rushdie in 1981, with both books later being adapted into films.

Some notable titles weren’t on the list, including creator JK Rowling’s Harry Potter series and JRR Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings.

British Book Prize
Bernardine Evaristo’s award-winning novel Girl, Woman, Other features in the Jubilee special list (Hamish Hamilton/PA)

The Big Jubilee Read campaign plans to use the list to “unite the public around the shared stories that define our social and cultural heritage” through public libraries, reading groups, publishers, bookstores and authors.

It will also be supported by events and activities at libraries and bookstores with resources available for reading groups across the country.

Suzy Klein, head of arts and classical music television at the BBC, said: “Nineteen years after the big read, the Queen’s platinum jubilee seems like the perfect opportunity to highlight some of the greatest writings from across the Commonwealth in our great Jubilee reading. .

“The list of 70 books – 10 for each decade of Elizabeth II’s reign – is a real opportunity to discover stories from every continent and take us through the decades, books we might never have read otherwise, and to read authors whose work deserves a spotlight to be shined on.

“It’s a really exciting way to share the love of books with readers of all ages and give book groups and book borrowers a plethora of great titles to try, borrow, share and discuss.”

About Herbert L. Leonard

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