Booker Prize Shortlist 2020

Share this page

Sharing...

Booker Prize Shortlist 2020

The Booker Prize is the leading literary award in the English speaking world, which has brought recognition, reward and readership to outstanding fiction for over 50 years. Awarded annually to the best novel of the year written in English and published in the UK or Ireland.

This year's shortlist has been announced and the winning title will be announced in November.

The new wilderness by Diane Cook

Bea's five-year-old daughter, Agnes, is wasting away, ravaged by the smog and pollution of the overdeveloped, overpopulated metropolis they call home. Bea knows she cannot stay in the city, but there is only one alternative, The Wilderness State. This vast expanse of unwelcoming, untamed land is untouched by mankind. Until now. Somewhere between a science experiment and a refugee, Bea and Agnes slowly learn how to live in this unpredictable, often dangerous land. But as Agnes embraces this radically free new existence, Bea realises that her bond with her daughter will be tested in ways she could never have foreseen.

See if The new wilderness is available on our catalogue or place a hold

This mournable body by Tsitsi Dangarembga

Anxious about her prospects after leaving a stagnant job, Tambudzai finds herself living in a run-down youth hostel in downtown Harare. For reasons that include her grim financial prospects and her age, she moves to a widow's boarding house and eventually finds work as a biology teacher. But at every turn in her attempt to make a life for herself, she is faced with a fresh humiliation, until the painful contrast between the future she imagined and her daily reality ultimately drives her to a breaking point. In This Mournable Body, Tsitsi Dangarembga returns to the protagonist of her acclaimed first novel, Nervous Conditions, to examine how the hope and potential of a young girl and a fledgling nation can sour over time and become a bitter and floundering struggle for survival. As a last resort, Tambudzai takes an ecotourism job that forces her to return to her parents' impoverished homestead. It is this homecoming, in Dangarembga's tense and psychologically charged novel, that culminates in an act of betrayal, revealing just how toxic the combination of colonialism and capitalism can be.

See if This mournable body is available on our catalogue or place a hold

Burnt sugar by Avni Doshi

Antara has never understood her mother Tara's decisions - walking out on her marriage to follow a guru, living on the streets like a beggar, shacking up with an unknown artist, rebelling against society's expectations. But when Tara starts losing her memory, Antara searches for a way to make peace with their shared past, a past that haunts them both. As she relives her childhood in Pune in the eighties, Catholic boarding school in the hills of Maharashtra, and her years as a young artist in Bombay, Antara comes up against her own fears and neuroses, realising she might not be so different from Tara after all.

See if Burnt sugar is available on our catalogue or place a hold

The shadow king: a novel by Maaza Mengiste

With the threat of Mussolini's army looming, recently orphaned Hirut struggles to adapt to her new life as a maid to Kidane and his wife Aster. Kidane, an officer in Emperor Haile Selassie's army, rushes to mobilize his strongest men before the Italians invade. His initial kindness to Hirut shifts into cruelty when she resists his advances, and Hirut finds herself tumbling into a new world of thefts and violations, of betrayals and rage. As the war begins in earnest, the Emperor goes into exile and Ethiopia quickly loses hope. Hirut helps disguise a gentle peasant as the emperor and soon becomes his guard, inspiring other women to take up arms against the Italians.

See if The shadow king is available on our catalogue or place a hold

Shuggie Bain by Douglas Stuart

Hugh "Shuggie" Bain, is a sweet and lonely boy who spends his 1980s childhood in run-down public housing in Glasgow, Scotland. Thatcher's policies have put husbands and sons out of work, and the city's notorious drugs epidemic is waiting in the wings. Shuggie's mother Agnes walks a wayward path: she is Shuggie's guiding light but a burden for him and his siblings. Married to a philandering taxi-driver husband, Agnes keeps her pride by looking good-but under the surface, Agnes finds increasing solace in drink, and she drains away all the family has to live on, on cans of extra-strong lager hidden in handbags and poured into tea mugs. Agnes's older children find their own ways to get a safe distance from their mother, abandoning Shuggie to care for her as she swings between alcoholic binges and sobriety. Shuggie is meanwhile struggling to somehow become the normal boy he desperately longs to be, but everyone has realised that he is "no right," a boy with a secret that all but him can see. Agnes is supportive of her son, but her addiction has the power to eclipse everyone close to her, even her beloved Shuggie.

See if Shuggie Bain is available on our catalogue or place a hold

Real life by Brandon Taylor

Wallace has spent his summer in the lab breeding a strain of microscopic worms, a slow and painstaking process. He is four years into a biochemistry degree at a lakeside Midwestern university, a life that's a world away from his childhood growing up in Alabama. His father died a few weeks ago, but Wallace has not been home, and he hasn't told his friends - Miller, Yngve, Cole and Emma. For reasons of self-preservation, he has become used to keeping a wary distance even from those closest to him. Over the course of one blustery end-of-summer weekend, a catastrophic mishap and a series of intense confrontations force Wallace to grapple with intimacy, desire, the trauma of the past and the question of the future.

See if Real life is available on our catalogue or place a hold