The prestigious award was given to The Seven Moons of Maali Almeida, which the judges hailed as "a searing, mordantly funny satire set amid the murderous mayhem of a Sri Lanka beset by civil war."
The playful and clever story pokes holes in pop culture assumptions about small towns from Hallmark movies to romance novels as two rivals in the publishing world find love far from the city lights.
Some want escapist reads to distract themselves during these times, while others are turning to books that lean into the darkness and dread of the pandemic.
Christy Lefteri's novel of the Syrian refugee crisis won the third annual award, which doles out $35,000 for fiction that illuminates a pressing social issue.
The annual award, doled out in partnership with NPR, honors fiction that doesn't shy from grappling with thorny social issues. Just one of the five books remaining will win $35,000 come April.
The novelist and poet joined Sarah M. Broom, László Krasznahorkai, Ottilie Mulzet, and Martin W. Sandler as winners Wednesday night — receiving $10,000 and a medallion for their front covers.
The literary prize, which honors fiction that tackles tough social issues, has announced a longlist of 16 titles. The nominees for the $35,000 prize include some big names and plenty of debuts.
The shortlists this year include Marlon James, Susan Choi, Carolyn Forché, Jason Reynolds and more than two dozen other authors and translators. Winners in five categories will be unveiled next month.
Colson Whitehead and Marlon James headline the longlists of names in contention for the literary prize. Altogether, 50 books across five categories stand a chance at winning in November.
Atwood made the list for her sequel to The Handmaid's Tale, and Rushdie for his reimagining of Don Quixote. Chigozie Obioma, Elif Shafak, Lucy Ellmann and Bernardine Evaristo round out the finalists.