Do you have a favourite?
Winning the Booker Prize for Fiction is the equivalent to winning Wimbledon, The FA Cup and an Olympic Gold for the 100 metres all in one day such is the accolade and international recognition the author will receive, not to mention the small matter of £50,000! This year the panel of judges is chaired by Margaret Busby, editor, literary critic and former publisher; and consists of: author Lee Child; author and critic Sameer Rahim; writer and broadcaster Lemn Sissay; and classicist and translator Emily Wilson. This is a wonderfully diverse long list that delivers some surprises and several debuts. There are voices from minorities often unheard, stories that are fresh, bold and absorbing.
In the same way a mother can not have a favourite child I feel as a Book shopkeeper I should not really have a favourite long lister but I must burst open the rules and express my love and admiration for Apeirogon by Colum McCann. Based on the true-life friendship of two men whose daughters were killed in the Middle East, this novel is a beautifully observed masterpiece to lift your heart.
If I were to admit to a second favourite it would be a close run thing between Shuggie Bain by Douglas Stuart and Real Life by US author Brandon Taylor. Both are emotionally raw, challenging and utterly compelling.
We cannot talk about The Booker 2020 without mentioning Hilary. Hilary Mantel’s masterful conclusion to her Thomas Cromwell trilogy, The Mirror and the Light, has been longlisted, putting the British novelist in the running to win for an unprecedented third time!
Hilary won the Booker for the two previous novels in her trilogy, Wolf Hall and Bring Up the Bodies and is one of only four authors to win the prestigious award twice, alongside Margaret Atwood, Peter Carey and JM Coetzee. No writer has yet won three times.
She has said that while “it will be cast in terms of a disaster if I don’t win it again”, she would not perceive it as a snub if she lost.
A shortlist of six books will be unveiled on 15 September, with the winner announced in November....will you admit to a favourite child?
In the meantime here is the full long list and if you would like to make an order please do email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
The 2020 Booker prize longlist
The New Wilderness by Diane Cook (US) This Mournable Body by Tsitsi Dangarembga (Zimbabwe) Burnt Sugar by Avni Doshi (US) Who They Was by Gabriel Krauze (UK) The Mirror and The Light by Hilary Mantel (UK) Apeirogon by Colum McCann (Ireland-US) The Shadow King by Maaza Mengiste (Ethiopia-US) Such a Fun Age by Kiley Reid (US) Real Life by Brandon Taylor (US) Redhead by The Side of the Road by Anne Tyler (US) Shuggie Bain by Douglas Stuart (Scotland-US) Love and Other Thought Experiments by Sophie Ward (UK) How Much of These Hills is Gold by C Pam Zhang (US)