The finalists for this year’s Booker Prize have been announced, with six titles chosen from a longlist of 13 books. The award is expected to be presented in November.

In the spine-tingling The New Wilderness, Diane Cook imagines how attempting to escape from the consequences of climate change can have calamitous effects on the relationship between a mother and the daughter she seeks to protect. Tsitsi Dangarembga’s This Mournable Body is a psychologically charged novel about a young girl struggling for a better life in Zimbabwe’s capital city of Harare. Avni Doshi’s Burnt Sugar follows an affluent wild child who leaves her husband, joins an ashram as a beggar, and is now trying to cope with deteriorating mental capacity in her old age. Douglas Stuart’s debut novel Shuggie Bain explores the poverty of 1980s Glasgow through the life of a boy trying his best to pass off as “normal”. Brandon Taylor’s debut Real Life is a coming-of-age novel about a gay, black PhD student in a predominantly white university, whose experiments with nematodes are sabotaged by a white student, while in Maaza Meginste’s The Shadow King, set in 1935 Ethiopia during the Italian invasion, an orphaned child goes from housemaid to king-maker, encouraging the women of her country to take up arms against the enemy.

The judges on this year’s panel are publisher Margaret Busby; Lee Child, author of the Jack Reacher series; Lemn Sissay, Chancellor of the University of Manchester; literary journalist Samir Rahim; and Emily Wilson, a professor and author of six books.

The seven other books on the longlist included Gabriel Krauze’s autofictional debut Who They Was; The Mirror and the Light by two-time winner (2009 for Wolf Hall and 2012 for Bring Up the Bodies) Hilary Mantel; Apeirogon by Colum McCann; Kiley Reid’s debut Such a Fun Age; Redhead by the Side of the Road by Anne Tyler; Sophie Ward’s debut Love and Other Thought Experiments and How Much of These Hills is Gold — yet another debut — by C. Pam Zhang.

The winner of the International Booker prize, meanwhile, is Dutch author Marieke Lucas Rijneveld, whose debut novel The Discomfort of Evening, trans­lated by Michele Hutchison, explores the lives of a deeply religious farming family as they deal with the death of a child in their own individual, disturbed and disturbing ways.

Published in Dawn, Books & Authors, September 20th, 2020