Features: The Booker Prize 2020

The Booker Prize longlist 2020

The Booker Prize longlist 2020

FEATURES 08/2020

This year sees an unusually eclectic choice of long listed titles. Hilary Mantel is there with her third and final Cromwell instalment, but Maggie O'Farrell's much-admired Hamnet didn't make the list. And there are eight first novels - unheard of! What do you make of the panel's decisions?

2020's judging panel - Margaret Busby (Chair), Lee Child, Lemn Sissay, Sameer Rahim and Emily Wilson, have announced a longlist which contains a few established stars alongside eight newcomers. Only three of the shortlisted titles are by British authors - Hilary Mantel, Sophie Ward and Gabriel Krauze - while nine of the remaining ten writers have US or dual-US citizenship. It has been five years since the Booker Prize changed the rules to allow any novelist writing in English to be considered and the proportion of US writers has risen steadily, prompting widespread concern from British publishers and writers. The Foundation - and the judging panel - maintain that their brief is to find the very best novels written in English, regardless of the author's nationality.

When asked about the appearance of eight first-timers on the list, Gaby Wood, literary director of the Booker Prize Foundation, had this to say:

“It is an unusually high proportion, and especially surprising to the judges themselves, who had admired many books by more established authors, and regretted having to let them go,” said Wood. “It is perhaps obvious that powerful stories can come from unexpected places and in unfamiliar forms; nevertheless, this kaleidoscopic list serves as a reminder.”

The shortlist of six titles will be announced on 15 September, with the prize announcement being made later in the year. Visit the website to find out more.

Discover the longlisted titles below. Follow the links to reserve digital copies when available.Physical copies of all the titles can be reserved from libraries.  

The New Wilderness by Diane Cook (Oneworld Publications)

This Mournable Body by Tsitsi Dangarembga (Faber & Faber)

Burnt Sugar by Avni Doshi (Hamish Hamilton, Penguin Random House)

Who They Was by Gabriel Krauze (4th Estate, HarperCollins)

The Mirror & The Light by Hilary Mantel (4th Estate, HarperCollins) eAudio version

Apeirogon by ColumMcCann (Bloomsbury Publishing) 

The Shadow King by Maaza Mengiste (Canongate Books)

Such a Fun Age by Kiely Reid (Bloomsbury Circus, Bloomsbury Publishing)

Shuggie Bain by Douglas Stuart (Picador, Pan Macmillan)

Real Life by BrandonTaylor (Originals, Daunt Books Publishing)       

Redhead by the Side of The Road by Anne Tyler (Chatto & Windus, Vintage) eAudio version

Love and Other Thought Experiments by Sophie Ward (Corsair, Little, Brown)

How Much of These Hills is Gold by C Pam Zhang (Virago, Little, Brown)

The winner of the 2020 International Booker Prize was announced in August. The Discomfort of Evening by Marieke Lucas Rijneveld (translated from Dutch by Michele Hutchison) was a bestselling sensation in the Netherlands. Marieke, a 29 year old Dutch poet, is the youngest ever winner of the prize.

Find it on our library catalogue.