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