Booker Prize for Fiction 2020: the longlist is in, and it’s a celebration of diverse female writing

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Hollie Richardson
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Booker Prize for Fiction 2020.

Looking for some novels to add to your summer reading list? You’ll want to get through every novel on the Booker Prize for Fiction 2020 longlist.

Many of us have had a lot of extra reading time on her hands during the pandemic. But, thanks to anxieties over what’s going on in the world, relaxing by getting through a good book hasn’t always been easy. 

But as we ease out of lockdown and start to enjoy some half decent summer weather, getting lost in a novel while sunbathing in a park or on the balcony is starting to become a favourable evening pastime again. 

And, with the announcement of the Booker Prize for Fiction 2020 longlist, we’ve got plenty of must-read novels to add to the reading list.

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This year’s longlist of 13 books was selected by a panel of five judges: editor, literary critic and former publisher, Margaret Busby (chair); author,  Lee Child; author and critic, Sameer Rahim; writer and broadcaster, Lemn Sissay; and classicist and translator, Emily Wilson.

Of the 13 longlisted authors, eight are debut novelists and nine are women. Three novelists have been longlisted before, including double winner Hilary Mantel with the third book in her Cromwell trilogy. 

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Here’s the full Booker Prize for Fiction 2020 list:

  • The New Wilderness, Diane Cook
  • This Mournable Body, Tsitsi Dangarembga 
  • Burnt Sugar, Avni Doshi 
  • Who They Was, Gabriel Krauze
  • The Mirror & The Light, Hilary Mantel 
  • Apeirogon, Colum McCann 
  • Such a Fun Age,  Kiley Reid 
  • Real Life, Brandon Taylor 
  • Redhead by The Side of The Road, Anne Tyler 
  • Shuggie Bain, Douglas Stuart 
  • Love and Other Thought Experiments, Sophie Ward
  • How Much of These Hills is Gold, C Pam Zhang
  • The Shadow King, Maaza Mengiste
Kiley Reid
Booker Prize for Fiction 2020: Kiley Reid is one of the nine female authors with a novel in the list.

Introducing the longlist, Busby says: “Each of these books carries an impact that has earned it a place on the longlist, deserving of wide readership. Included are novels carried by the sweep of history with memorable characters brought to life and given visibility, novels that represent a moment of cultural change, or the pressures an individual faces in pre- and post-dystopian society. 

“Some of the books focus on interpersonal relationships that are complex, nuanced, emotionally charged. There are voices from minorities often unheard, stories that are fresh, bold and absorbing. The best fiction enables the reader to relate to other people’s lives; sharing experiences that we could not ourselves have imagined is as powerful as being able to identify with characters.”

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Gaby Wood, Literary Director of the Booker Prize Foundation, adds: “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.”

The shortlist of six books will be announced on Tuesday 15 September and the 2020 winner will be announced in November. In the meantime, we’ve got some serious reading to get on with.

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Images: Supplied by Booker Prize, David Goddard


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Hollie Richardson

Hollie is a digital writer at, mainly covering the daily news on women’s issues, politics, celebrities and entertainment. She also keeps an ear out for the best podcast episodes to share with readers. Oh, and don’t even get her started on Outlander…