Submitted by The Booker Prizes on Mon, 14/09/2020 - 12:16
We are delighted that Diane Cook, Tsitsi Dangarembga, Avni Doshi, Maaza Mengiste, Douglas Stuart and Brandon Taylor are today, Tuesday 15 September, announced as the six authors shortlisted for the 2020 Booker Prize for Fiction.
The shortlist was revealed at lunchtime by the 2020 Chair of Judges Margaret Busby during a virtual press conference. It will be celebrated this evening in a Shortlist Watch Party for readers around the world on The Booker Prizes' Facebook and YouTube channels at 5pm BST.
The shortlist was selected from 162 submitted books. Readers of the six chosen books will explore the tender story of a mother's battle to save her daughter in a dystopian city made inhospitable by the climate crisis; witness a woman confronting the realities of life and morality in Zimbabwe as she descends into poverty; travel to India to unpick an unsettling mother-daughter relationship redefined by dementia; uncover the extraordinary tales of the African women who went to war during Italy’s 1935 invasion of Ethiopia; find humanity and humour in the harsh realities experienced by a marginalised family in 1980s Glasgow; and question what ‘real life’ is in a fresh take on the campus novel, which offers a nuanced account of racism and homophobia.
The 2020 Booker Prize for Fiction is open to writers of any nationality, writing in English and published in the UK or Ireland between 1 October 2019 and 30 September 2020.
The 2020 shortlist is:
The shortlist was selected by a panel of five judges: Margaret Busby (chair), editor, literary critic and former publisher; Lee Child, author; Sameer Rahim, author and critic; Lemn Sissay, writer and broadcaster; and Emily Wilson, classicist and translator.
Margaret Busby, Chair of the 2020 judges, says:
‘As judges we read 162 books, many of them conveying important, sometimes uncannily similar and prescient messages. The best novels often prepare our societies for valuable conversations, and not just about the inequities and dilemmas of the world − whether in connection with climate change, forgotten communities, old age, racism, or revolution when necessary − but also about how magnificent the interior life of the mind, imagination and spirit is, in spite of circumstance. The shortlist of six came together unexpectedly, voices and characters resonating with us all even when very different. We are delighted to help disseminate these chronicles of creative humanity to a global audience.
‘The novels on this year's shortlist range in setting from an unusual child growing up in working-class Glasgow in the 1980s, to a woman coping with a post-colonial nightmare in Zimbabwe. Along the way we meet a man struggling with racism on a university campus, join a trek in the wilderness after an environmental disaster, eavesdrop on a woman coping with her ageing mother as they travel across India and in an exploration of female power discover how ordinary people rose up in 1930s Ethiopia to defend their country against invading Italians. It’s a wondrous and enriching variety of stories, and hugely exciting as well.’
Gaby Wood, Literary Director of the Booker Prize Foundation, adds:
‘Every year, judging the Booker Prize is an act of discovery. What’s out there, how can we widen the net, how do these books seem when compared to one another, how do they fare when re-read? These are questions judges always ask themselves, and each other.
‘This year there has perhaps been more discovery than usual, both in the sense that debut novels are in the majority, and due to the fact that the judges themselves were surprised to find that was the case. Why were they surprised? They were focussing on the books. No one wins the Booker Prize because of who they are. A book wins because of what it does. What has transpired is a testament to the judges’ faith in – among other things – first fictions: they have found these writers to have much to say, and found them to have said it in a way that became even richer on a second reading.’
The 2020 winner will be announced on Tuesday 17 November in an event broadcast from London’s Roundhouse in collaboration with BBC Arts. The ceremony has been re-imagined, transposing the traditional dinner at the Guildhall to a globally accessible ceremony without walls. In light of the pandemic, the newly formatted event aims to creatively engage readers across the world with the shortlisted books, authors and the overall winner. It will be a multi-platform offering, including a one-off BBC Two programme in the run-up, a Live Page on BBC Arts, coverage on BBC News in the UK and BBC World News on BBC World News and the live announcement of the winner on BBC Radio 4’s Front Row.
In the meantime, BBC Radio 4’s Front Row is running its successful Booker Prize Book Group for a second year with each of the six shortlisted books and authors. There will also be a series of digital public events featuring the authors, including a Guardian Live event on Wednesday 11 November and a regional event on Friday 13 November held in partnership with Doncaster Creates.
The winner will take part in their first digital event in partnership with Southbank Centre on Saturday 21 November as part of its 'Inside Out' series. More information about the events programme will be announced soon.
The shortlisted authors each receive £2,500 and a specially bound edition of their book. The winner will receive a further £50,000 and can expect instant international recognition.