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2019 Man Booker Prize for Fiction: Judges announced

2019 Man Booker Prize for Fiction: Judges announced

The judges of the 2019 Man Booker Prize for Fiction are announced today, Tuesday 11 December.


The panel will be chaired by Peter Florence, director of the Hay Festival, and consists of: former fiction publisher and editor Liz Calder; novelist and filmmaker Xiaolu Guo; writer and broadcaster Afua Hirsch and pianist and composer Joanna MacGregor.


Gaby Wood, Literary Director of the Booker Prize Foundation, says:


‘The collective brainpower and creative spirit of this year’s panel is stunning, and the judges’ commitment to high quality literature boundless. I’m looking forward to seeing this varied group in action, and to hearing the ways in which their private reading will become a public act, bringing great books to the notice of others.’


The judging panel will be looking for the best work of long-form fiction, selected from entries published in the UK between 1 October 2018 and 30 September 2019.


The 2018 Man Booker Prize for Fiction winner was Milkman by Anna Burns, published by Faber & Faber. In the week following the winner announcement, it posted the highest volume sales for any winner in the Nielsen BookScan era, selling nearly 19,000 copies, and has gone on to sell 350,000 copies in the UK since.


The ‘Man Booker Dozen’ of 12 or 13 books will be announced in July 2019 and the shortlist of six books in early September. The winner of the £50,000 prize will be announced on October 2019 at an awards ceremony at London’s Guildhall, broadcast live by the BBC.


The Man Booker Prize is sponsored by Man Group, a global active investment management firm.


The 2019 Man Booker Prize Judges


Peter Florence created Hay Festival in 1987 around his mother’s kitchen table, with his parents and a few friends. Over the past 32 years, Hay has brought more than 5 million people to events in 15 countries around the globe. Peter has championed many of the world's greatest writers from early on in their careers, among them Arundhati Roy and DBC Pierre, who went on to win the Booker and Man Booker respectively. He has hosted conversations about fiction with several Booker and Nobel Prize winners, including Margaret Atwood, Hilary Mantel, Toni Morrison and Kazuo Ishiguro. He was awarded a CBE for services to literature and charity in 2018.


Liz Calder began her publishing career in 1971 at Gollancz, where she published Salman Rushdie, John Irving and Angela Carter, before moving to Jonathan Cape in 1979. There, she published two Booker Prize-winning novels - Salman Rushdie’s Midnight’s Children and Anita Brookner’s Hotel du Lac - and the future Man Booker winner Julian Barnes. In 1986 she became a founding director of Bloomsbury Publishing, where her authors included three further Booker Prize winners: Margaret Atwood, Nadine Gordimer, (who was also Nobel laureate in Literature) and Michael Ondaatje, whose novel The English Patient won the Golden Man Booker this year. Liz is a founder-director Flip, the first literary festival in South America, and of Full Circle Editions, a Suffolk-based publishing imprint at which she now exclusively publishes non-fiction.


Xiaolu Guo is a British/Chinese novelist, essayist and filmmaker. Her novels include A Concise Chinese-English Dictionary for Lovers (shortlisted for the Women’s Prize for Fiction), Village of Stone, and I Am China. Her recent memoir Once Upon A Time In The East was shortlisted for the Royal Society of Literature Ondaatje Award, the Folio Prize and the Costa Award, and won the National Book Critics Circle Award in 2017. She was named as one of Granta’s Best of Young British Novelists in 2013. She has also directed several feature films, including How Is Your Fish Today, UFO In Her Eyes and She, A Chinese. Her documentaries include Five Men and A Caravaggio, which premiered at the BFI London Film Festival 2018. She teaches creative writing in London and filmmaking in Berlin.


Afua Hirsch is a writer, broadcaster and former barrister. She is a columnist for The Guardian, writes for magazines including VOGUE, Time and National Geographic, and presents live debates and documentaries for the BBC, Channel 4 and international networks. She has worked in development in West Africa, in international human rights law at the bar, as legal correspondent and West Africa correspondent for The Guardian and as social affairs editor for Sky News. She is currently a visiting professor at the University of Southern California as Wallis Annenberg Chair of Journalism. Her bestselling book Brit(ish): On Race, Identity and Belonging, which won the Royal Society of Literature Jerwood Prize, was published in 2018 by Jonathan Cape.


Joanna MacGregor is a concert pianist, conductor and composer. Known for her innovative collaborations with jazz, folk, pop, film, electronica and visual artists, as well as with writers and poets, she is Head of Piano at the Royal Academy of Music and Professor of the University of London. As a solo artist she has performed in over 80 countries, made more than 40 recordings, and appeared with many eminent conductors and orchestras - Pierre Boulez, Simon Rattle, London Symphony and Berlin Symphony among them. She has performed over 20 times at the BBC Proms, and performed Bach’s Goldberg Variations at the Albert Hall, broadcast live. Joanna is Chair of the annual Paul Hamlyn Composers Awards, and Artistic Director of Dartington International Summer School & Festival. She founded her own record label in 1998, and was appointed OBE in the Queen’s Jubilee Honours in 2012.

Photograph taken in the British Library Members’ Room by Clara Molden