Announced 28 July 2020
The longlist, or ‘The Booker Dozen’, for The 2020 Booker Prize is announced today.
This year’s longlist of 13 books 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.
The list was chosen from 162 novels published in the UK or Ireland between 1 October 2019 and 30 September 2020.
The Booker Prize for Fiction is open to writers of any nationality, writing in English and published in the UK or Ireland.
The 2020 longlist, or ‘The Booker Dozen’, of 13 novels, is:
Author (country/territory), Title (imprint)
Diane Cook (USA), The New Wilderness (Oneworld Publications)
Tsitsi Dangarembga (Zimbabwe), This Mournable Body (Faber & Faber)
Avni Doshi (USA), Burnt Sugar (Hamish Hamilton, Penguin Random House)
Gabriel Krauze (UK), Who They Was (4th Estate, HarperCollins)
Hilary Mantel (UK), The Mirror & The Light (4th Estate, HarperCollins)
Colum McCann (Ireland/USA), Apeirogon (Bloomsbury Publishing)
Maaza Mengiste (Ethiopia/USA), The Shadow King (Canongate Books)
Douglas Stuart (Scotland/USA), Shuggie Bain (Picador, Pan Macmillan)
Kiley Reid (USA), Such a Fun Age (Bloomsbury Circus, Bloomsbury Publishing)
Brandon Taylor (USA), Real Life (Originals, Daunt Books Publishing)
Anne Tyler (USA), Redhead by The Side of The Road (Chatto & Windus, Vintage)
Sophie Ward (UK), Love and Other Thought Experiments (Corsair, Little, Brown)
C Pam Zhang (USA), How Much of These Hills is Gold (Virago, Little, Brown)
Margaret Busby, Chair of the 2020 judges, says:
“Each of these books carries an impact that has earned it a place on the longlist, deserving of wide readership. Included are novels carried by the sweep of history with memorable characters brought to life and given visibility, novels that represent a moment of cultural change, or the pressures an individual faces in pre- and post-dystopian society. Some of the books focus on interpersonal relationships that are complex, nuanced, emotionally charged. There are voices from minorities often unheard, stories that are fresh, bold and absorbing. The best fiction enables the reader to relate to other people’s lives; sharing experiences that we could not ourselves have imagined is as powerful as being able to identify with characters.
As judges we connected with these writers’ well-crafted prose, the mastery of detail, the arresting sentence, the credibility of the narrative arc, the ability to use to the full, the resources of storytelling. Unplanned, our final selection encompasses both seasoned favourites and debut talents ― a truly satisfying outcome.”
Gaby Wood, Literary Director of the Booker Prize Foundation, adds:
“When the judges had drawn up their longlist of 13 books, one of them said: ‘Out of interest, how many debuts are there?’ We counted. It was more than half the list. That’s 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. It is perhaps obvious that powerful stories can come from unexpected places and in unfamiliar forms; nevertheless, this kaleidoscopic list serves as a reminder.
In this year of seismic change, visibility for new books published in the UK has been drastically low. So, however unintended the ratio, it’s especially heartening to know that some authors who have launched their careers in the midst of Covid-19 may now have a chance to reach the readers they deserve.”
The nine female authors are Diane Cook, Tsitsi Dangarembga, Avni Doshi, Hilary Mantel, Maaza Mengiste, Kiley Reid, Anne Tyler, Sophie Ward and C Pam Zhang. The four male contenders are Gabriel Krauze, Colum McCann, Douglas Stuart and Brandon Taylor.
Three novelists have been longlisted before: Hilary Mantel (winner in 2009 for Wolf Hall and in 2012 for Bring Up the Bodies, longlisted in 2005 for Beyond Black), Anne Tyler (shortlisted in 2015 for A Spool of Blue Thread) and Colum McCann (longlisted in 2013 for TransAtlantic).
Six of the longlisted books come from independent publishers: Bloomsbury Publishing (with two titles), Canongate Books, Daunt Books Publishing, Faber & Faber and Oneworld Publications.
The shortlist and winner announcements
The shortlist of six books will be announced on Tuesday 15 September. The shortlisted authors each receive £2,500 and a specially bound edition of their book. The 2020 winner will be announced in November. Details will be announced shortly.
The winner of the 2020 Booker Prize receives £50,000 and can expect international recognition.
The 2019 Booker Prize for Fiction was won jointly by The Testaments by Margaret Atwood and Girl, Woman, Other by Bernardine Evaristo. In the week following the announcement, sales of The Testaments rose from 11,955 to 13,400 copies while Girl, Woman, Other sold 5,980 copies, more than double its lifetime sales up to that point and a 1,340% increase week on week. Girl, Woman, Other has now spent 25 weeks in The Sunday Times Top Ten in hardback and paperback, several at number one and its combined sales in all editions and formats are heading towards half a million. The book will be published in 32 territories internationally and TV rights have been optioned by Potboiler. After its Booker win it was shortlisted for the Women’s Prize for Fiction and won the best fiction book at the 2020 British Book Awards, while Evaristo picked up Author of the Year.
The leading prize for quality fiction in English
First awarded in 1969, The Booker Prize is recognised as the leading prize for literary fiction written in English. The list of former winners features many of the literary giants of the last five decades: from Iris Murdoch to Salman Rushdie, Ian McEwan to Hilary Mantel.
The rules of the prize were changed at the end of 2013 to embrace the English language ‘in all its vigour, its vitality, its versatility and its glory’, opening it up to writers beyond the UK and Commonwealth, providing they were writing novels in English and published in the UK.
The Booker Prize is supported by Crankstart, a charitable foundation.