The 2020 Booker Prize Longlist has been announced! This year’s longlist is comprised of 13 novels that span the globe, ranging from established authors like Hilary Mantel to debuts from new voices like Kiley Reid, C Pam Zhang, and Brandon Taylor. First awarded in 1969, the Booker Prize is open to writers of any nationality writing in English and published in the UK or Ireland. The winner of the prize will receive £50,000 and each shortlisted author will receive £2,500. The shortlist will be announced on September 15th and the winner will be announced in November. You can browse the complete longlist here.
The exciting inclusion of Hilary Mantel’s last novel in her Thomas Cromwell trilogy has already garnered much attention. Mantel has won the Booker for the trilogy’s previous two novels, Wolf Hall and Bring Up the Bodies, and the literary world will be watching to see if she’ll win for The Mirror and the Light as well. Mantel is one of only four authors to win the Booker twice, alongside Margaret Atwood, Peter Carey, and JM Coetzee. No writer has won three times.
Notably more than half of this year’s longlist is comprised of debut novels, including Kiley Reid’s Such a Fun Age, C Pam Zhang’s How Much of These Hills Is Gold, Brandon Taylor’s Real Life, Avni Doshi’s Burnt Sugar, and four others. The judges themselves were surprised at the number of debut novels after finalizing the longlist.
Gaby Wood, Literary Director of the Booker Prize Foundation, writes: “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.”
Last year the 2019 Booker Prize for Fiction was won jointly by The Testaments by Margaret Atwood and Girl, Woman, Other by Bernardine Evaristo, to much critique. You can read more of Book Riot’s coverage of last year’s controversial Booker Prize tie here.