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

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

The Big Jubilee Read campaign was launched 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 specialists selected titles from a reader-voted longlist of ten books for each decade.

The list, compiled by BBC Arts and The Reading Agency, covers 31 countries and six continents.

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

The winner of the Women’s Prize for Fiction, Girl, Woman, Other by Evaristo also made the list, as did Northern Irish poet Heaney’s 1966 collection Death of a Naturalist, which won the 1995 Nobel Prize in Literature.

Canadian author Yann Martel’s Life of Pi is also on view after its West End theatrical adaptation recently won a string of Olivier Awards.

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


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

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

The 1962 cult classic A Clockwork Orange by English author Anthony Burgess is among the titles, as is 1981’s Midnight’s Children by Anglo-Indian author Salman Rushdie, both of which were later made into films.

A few notable titles didn’t make the list, including creator JK Rowling’s Harry Potter series and JRR Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings.


Bernardine Evaristo’s award-winning novel Girl, Woman, Other is on the anniversary special list (Hamish Hamilton/PA)

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

It is also supported through events and activities at libraries and bookstores with resources available to reading groups across the country.

Suzy Klein, Head of Classical Music Arts and Television at the BBC, said: “Nineteen years after the Big Read, the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee feels like the perfect opportunity to bring some of the greatest works from across the Commonwealth to our Big Jubilee Read to foreground .

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

“It’s a really exciting way to share the love of books with readers of all ages, and to give book groups and book lenders a wealth of great titles to try, borrow, share and discuss.” List of 70 books by Commonwealth authors announced to mark the Platinum Jubilee

Fry Electronics Team

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