Women lead the way on 2020 Booker Prize Shortlist

Today the Booker Prize judges announced the six books that make up their 2020 Shortlist. The shortlist was selected from the 162 books submitted for the award. Those 162 were whittled down to an eclectic longlist of thirteen titles back in July, and now the field has been tightened further. 

What was already shaping up to be a surprising year for the award, has thrown up yet more surprises. Hilary Mantel, who I imagine was an early favourite to take out a third win for The Mirror & The Light, hasn’t made the shortlist. Despite Mantel not making the cut, it is a shortlist that’s heavy on women writers, and debut authors. It’s also a USA heavy list, with all but one of the shortlisted authors living or working in the US.

Here’s what Chair of the Judges, Margaret Busby had to say about the novels that make up the 2020 shortlist:

“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 2020 shortlist is:

  • The New Wilderness by Diane Cook
  • This Mournable Body by Tsitsi Dangarembga
  • Burnt Sugar by Avni Doshi
  • The Shadow King by Maaza Mengiste
  • Shuggie Bain by Douglas Stuart
  • Real Life by Brandon Taylor

The winner of the 2020 Booker Prize for Fiction will be announced on Tuesday 17 November. The event will be broadcast from London’s Roundhouse in collaboration with BBC Arts. In light of the global pandemic there are plans in place to include a global audience. There will also be a number of digital events with the shortlisted authors in the run up to the announcement.

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.

Header Image sourced from Booker Prize website. 

Simon Clark

Books Editor. An admirer of songs and reader of books. Simon has a PhD in English and Comparative Literature. All errant apostrophes are his own.