The Booker Prize Shortlist 2020
The Booker Prize is the leading literary award for books published in the UK or Ireland and has been running for over 50 years. It is awarded every year to the best book published in the English language by a panel of prestigious experts.
With the announcement of the 2020 shortlist on Tuesday 15th came many shocks and surprises for the committed followers of the Booker Prize. Many were certain Hilary Mantel would secure her third win with The Mirror and the Light but shockingly, she did not make it to the judge’s shortlist this year. Personally, I think this was a good decision as it gives the four debut novels on the shortlist an excellent opportunity.
Mantel was previously awarded the Booker Prize for Wolf Hall in 2009 and Bring Up the Bodies in 2012. Having so many new writers and new ideas on the shortlist is refreshing to see:
Real Life by Brandon Taylor
Shuggie Bain by Douglas Stuart
The Shadow King by Maaza Mengiste
Burnt Sugar by Avni Doshi
The Mournable Body by Tsitsi Dangarembga
The New Wilderness by Diane Cook
The shortlist is exceptionally diverse regarding each novel’s genre. From 1980s Glasgow deeply impacted by poverty in Shuggie Bain to a dystopian world ravaged by climate change and pollution in The New Wilderness, the shortlisted novels all have incredibly interesting settings, particularly their place and period.
Mengiste’s The Shadow King tells the story of a fascinating period during 1930s Ethiopia and Mussolini’s invasion, focusing on women who are largely unknown or lesser documented in recent history. A common theme we see in a few on the list is the exploration of complex or strained child/parent relationships that Doshi’s Burnt Sugar focuses on.
It is a well-considered and thoughtful list, though many might be disappointed that the publicly popular Such A Fun Age by Kiley Reid has not made the shortlist.
We look forward to seeing which of these very deserving novels is awarded the prize this year.