Can Hilary Mantel make history and be the first writer to win the Booker Prize for a third time?
The longlist of 13 novels in English was announced this week.
The third in Mantel’s riveting trilogy about Henry VIII’s chancellor Thomas Cromwell, The Mirror and the Light, follows Wolf Hall, which won the prize in 2009, and Bring Up the Bodies, which won in 2012.
The Mirror and the Light takes the saga from the time of Anne Boleyn’s execution in 1536 to Cromwell’s own just four years later.
Only a handful of writers have won the Booker twice, including South African JM Coetzee, Margaret Atwood and Peter Carey.
Of the 13 titles on the list, more than half are debut novels, but another favourite to make the cut is the American writer Anne Tyler with her Redhead by the Side of the Road.
The final book in another trilogy, by the Zimbabwean writer Tsitsi Dangarembga, This Mournable Body, also made the longlist. The two previous novels are Nervous Conditions (1988), named by the BBC as one of the 100 books that shaped the world, and The Book of Not, published in 2006.
The Guardian reports: “Award-winning Zimbabwean author Tsitsi Dangarembga is in the running for This Mournable Body, a sequel to her 1988 novel Nervous Conditions, named by the BBC as one of the 100 books that shaped the world. Judges said This Mournable Body ‘drew an immediate reaction like a sharp intake of breath from all of us on the panel’.”
Margaret Busby, chair of the 2020 panel of judges, said of the longlist: “Each of these books carries an impact that has earned it a place on the longlist, deserving of wide readership. 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.
“As judges we connected with these writers’ well-crafted prose, the mastery of detail, the arresting sentence, the credibility of the narrative arc, the ability to use to the full, the resources of storytelling. Unplanned, our final selection encompasses both seasoned favourites and debut talents – a truly satisfying outcome.”
The full list is:
- The New Wilderness by Diane Cook (Oneworld Publications)
- This Mournable Body by Tsitsi Dangarembga (Faber & Faber)
- Burnt Sugar by Avni Doshi (Hamish Hamilton, Penguin Random House)
- Who They Was by Gabriel Krauze (4th Estate, HarperCollins)
- The Mirror & The Light by Hilary Mantel (4th Estate, HarperCollins)
- Apeirogon by Colum McCan (Bloomsbury Publishing)
- The Shadow King by Maaza Mengiste (Canongate Books)
- Such a Fun Age by Kiley Reid (Bloomsbury Circus, Bloomsbury Publishing)
- Real Life by Brandon Taylor (Originals, Daunt Books Publishing)
- Redhead by The Side of The Road by Anne Tyler (Chatto & Windus, Vintage)
- Shuggie Bain by Douglas Stuart (Picador, Pan Macmillan)
- Love and Other Thought Experiments by Sophie Ward (Corsair, Little, Brown)
- How Much of These Hills is Gold by C Pam Zhang (Virago, Little, Brown)
The shortlist of six books will be announced on September 15, and each author will receive £2 500 (about R46 000). The 2020 winner will be announced in November and wins £50 000 (just over R1million.