Introducing the Booker Shortlist 2020

The Booker 2020 shortlist was announced a few days ago and it’s exciting to see it is the most diverse ever. A lot of people will be pretty shocked not to see Hilary Mantel’s latest Wolf Hall installment, The Mirror and the Light, but personally I’m glad! I love to use the Booker Prize as a way to discover new authors so the fact that I’ve never read any of the nominated authors previously means there’s a lot for me to discover here!

The winner is set to be announced on 17/11 this year so there’s still plenty of time to read them and pick your favorite beforehand. Here are the titles (in no particular order) that have made it onto the shortlist with a little bit about their authors:

Burnt Sugar by Avni Doshi

Burnt Sugar explores the long lasting impacts of neglect and abandonment  on the relationship between mother and daughter. The story is set in Pune, India and takes place after a young woman, Antara, is forced to take up a more prominent role in her mother’s life when dementia starts to creep in. The mother-daughter pair tussle over their own versions of the past and forced to question their understanding’s of one another. Dark, unsettling and full of bitterness, this is certainly an interesting read.

This book is Doshi’s debut novel. Doshi was born in New Jersey to Indian Parents but is currently based in Dubai. The novel was first publishing in India under the title Girl in White Cotton. You can read a fascinating interview with Avni Doshi about her book here.

You can purchase a copy of Burnt Sugar from your local independent bookshop from Hive here.


The New Wilderness by Diane Cook

Cook’s climate-change inspired dystopia is certainly one to watch. With the City struggling against smog and pollution, Bea must make an escape with her 5-year-old daughter. No one leaves the city but Bea and a group of volunteers go on an intrepid journey to last region of protected land, the forbidden Wilderness State. Joining a scientific study, the party goes out to explore whether humans can co-exist with nature.

This is definitely the shortlister that I am most excited to read so there’ll be a review for this one coming soon!

There is already a screenplay in the works for this one, with Cook working with Warner Bros Television to develop it into a television series. Cook lives in Brooklyn, New York and is a formed radio producer.

You can read my full review here.

You can purchase a copy of The New Wilderness from your local independent bookshop from Hive here.


This Mournable Body by Tsitsi Dangarembga

This Mournable Body is the third instalment of the Nervous Conditionstrilogy, the namesake of which was published in 1988 and won the Commonwealth Writer’s Prize. Readable as a stand alone the book explores the obstacles faced by women in Zimbabwe. The story follows a young girl, Tambudzai, after she leaves a stagnant job and endeavours to reach her full potential. However, life repeatedly pushes back against Tambudzai’s ambitions.

Dangarembga is certainly a fascinating individual, currently on trial following an arrest in Harare, Zimbabwe’s capital, during a peaceful protest against government corruption. You can read an interview with Dangarembga here.

You can purchase a copy of This Mournable Body from your local independent bookshop from Hive here.


The Shadow King by Maaza Mengiste

This is another shortlister that has caught my eye. The Shadow King is set during Mussolini’s 1935 invasion of Ethiopia and explores to role of women soldiers through the story of recently orphaned Hirut. After trouble adjusting to life as a maid and unwanted advances from older men, Hirut finds herself surrounded by the conflict between Ethiopian and Italian soldiers.

Mengiste is already a well established author with her debut novel, Beneath the Lion’s Gaze, selected as one of the Guardians 10 best contemporary African books. Her novels examine the lives affected by migration, war and exile. She was born in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia but fled to with her family at the age of four during the Ethiopian Revolution, spending the rest of her childhood in Nigeria, Kenya and the US.

You can purchase a copy of The Shadow King from your local independent bookshop from Hive here.


Shuggie Bain by Douglas Stuart

Set in 1980’s Glasgow this novel has already been described as heart-rending. The story is one of family, violence and sexuality and follows the life of Hugh “Shuggie” Bain as he dreams of hairdressing college whilst working in a grimy supermarket, and gives snippets into the whole family, especially his struggling mother, Agnes, desperately trying to succeed as a mother during the booze-ravaged and brutal 80s in Glasgow.

Douglas Stuart is Scottish-born but lives in the New York in the US where he works as a designer.  

You can purchase a copy of Shuggie Bain from your local independent bookshop from Hive here.


Real Life by Brandon Taylor

Real Life is the story of Wallace, an introverted young man from Alabama, black and queer, as he studies a biochemistry degree in a Midwestern university town. The book explored the experience of blackness in a predominantly white setting and has been described as ‘a blistering coming of age story’.

Brandon Taylor is the senior editor of Electric Literature’s Recommended Reading and a staff writer at lit Hub. He was raised in Alabama, USA. He initially studied biochemistry but left to pursue a career n creative writing.

You can purchase a copy of The New Wilderness from your local independent bookshop from Hive here.



2020-11-17T15:42:00

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Booker Prize 2020 Winner Announcement


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