The Booker Longlist 2020

On the longlist!

I am excited about the Booker Prize. From the ’80s through the zips, I have read most of the winners.  In 2011 I fell behind, due to a disappointing longlist.  But I usually read one from the longlist or the shortlist, even if I don’t get around to the winner.

Last year I got back on track:  I read one book from the longlist,  Jeanette Winterson’s Frankissstein, one from the shortlist, Lucy Ellman’s Ducks, Newburyport, and one of the two (tied) winners, Margaret Atwood’s Testaments. And I enjoyed all three.  So it was a good year.  (I still need to read the longlisted Salman Rushdie and John Lanchester.)

Anyway, I am so happy that the Booker Prize 2020 announcement has  not been delayed by the coronavirus. For some reason, other awards seem to be on hold this year.  The Booker International winner has not yet been announced!  Let’s get back to normalcy, even if the ceremony is virtual.

Anne Tyler’s Redhead by the Side of the Road is on the longlist, and I would be happy if she won it.  She has had a stunning career.  There are many, many reviews of Redhead online, and though I didn’t get around to reviewing it, it is one of my favorites.

I don’t consider myself a Booker judge, but here are two novels I think are award-worthy:   Anne Enright’s Actress (which I wrote about here) and Martha McPhee’s An Elegant Woman (which I wrote about here).  Perhaps McPhee’s book would be dismissed as a women’s saga, even though it is so much more than that.  You know how these things work.

Here is the Booker longlist.

Diane Cook – The New Wilderness
Tsitsi Dangarembga – This Mournable Body
Avni Doshi – Burnt Suga
Gabriel Krauze – Who They Was
Hilary Mantel – The Mirror & The Light
Colum McCann – Apeirogon
Maaza Mengiste – The Shadow King
Kiley Reid – Such a Fun Age
Brandon Taylor – Real Life
Anne Tyler – Redhead by The Side of The Road
Douglas Stuart – Shuggie Bain
Sophie Ward – Love and Other Thought Experiments
C Pam Zhang – How Much of These Hills is Gold

What books would you have added to this list?

8 thoughts on “The Booker Longlist 2020”

  1. I agree with you about the Tyler; I loved it. I would have liked to have seen Evie Wyld’s The Bass Rock and Sebastian Barry’s A Thousand Moons on there and I’ve no doubt there will be an outcry because Maggie O’Farrell’s Hamnet isn’t included.

    1. These sound like excellent suggestions. I am a fan of Sebastian Barry and O’Farrell and coincidentally just heard a podcast review with Wyld. I did read that there are many debuts on the list which have ousted big names.

      1. I wonder if there was an extra incentive for judges to consider emerging writers given that new books have faced such challenges with launches delayed/transformed to keep the protective measures for Covid-19 in place. With the Booker I dart in and out, but I do enjoy a good prizelist discussion. (Haven’t been reading enough of the newest books to say if I think there’s something missing here.) So pleased to hear that the new Tyler is a joy. I’ve been thinking about reading her straight through, as I did with Erdrich a couple of years ago.

        1. Oh, I love Tyler! And I do know they’ve pushed back the release date for so many books. Some on the Booker list sound very good, but they’re not published here yet in the U.S. You know how that goes! By the way, my husband gave me a link to a CBC link with podcasts by Eleanor Wachtel. I can listen to podcasts about Can Lit now!

  2. I was surprised, but pleased, by the inclusion of Anne Tyler’s book in this year’s long list. It is not my favorite of hers, but she is a favorite writer of mine. The way she creates such quirky, lovable characters always makes me comforted somehow…that we don’t all have to be perfect, I guess.

    1. Her books are so charming and graceful. I’m sure she’s won lots of awards–I know she’s won the Pulitzer–but it would be nice to see her honored again. Of course I’m sure there are lots of good books on the list.

  3. I’m still bitter that she didn’t win for A Spool of Blue Thread which was Tyler at her best. I would love to see her win this time but I don’t think ‘Redhead’ is as good as her other books and also it is only really a novella. I heard a podcast with her a couple of months ago and she said that she reread one of her earlier books (Dinner at the Homesick Restaurant) and she thinks she was a better writer then.

    1. I’d love to see her win once, for her career as a whole. Dinner at the Homesick Restaurant is one of her best, but her work still has the same elements,,from a different older viewpoint e. I’m sure there are other good books on the list, though, and since they gave it to Atwood last year my guess is they’ll give it to an unknown. A WILD guess, since I haven’t read any of the other books! I don’t think I’ve ever guessed right.

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