LONDON: Booker Prize judges are assembly Thursday to select a winner of the distinguished literary award, selecting from a six-book checklist that is each U.S.-dominated and strikingly various.
Five of the books competing for the 50,000 pound ($66,000) prize are by American or US-based authors, together with “The Shadow King,” the story of an orphan in Ethiopia by Maaza Mengiste; Diane Cook’s dystopian story “The New Wilderness,” Avni Doshi’s India-set mother-daughter saga ‘Burnt Sugar’ and Brandon Taylor‘s “Real Life,” which explores racism and homophobia in educational life.
The sole British contender is New York-based Scottish author Douglas Stuart for “Shuggie Bain,” the story of a boy’s turbulent coming of age in 1980s Glasgow.
Also on the checklist is Zimbabwean author Tsitsi Dangarembga’s “This Mournable Body,” which hyperlinks the breakdown of its central character and turmoil in post-colonial Zimbabwe. Dangarembga, one among Zimbabwe‘s most garlanded authors, was arrested in July and spent an evening in detention for participating in anti-corruption protests.
The Booker’s conventional black-tie dinner ceremony at London’s medieval Guildhall has been scrapped due to the coronavirus pandemic. Instead, the winner announcement might be broadcast on-line and on radio later Thursday from London’s Roundhouse arts venue, with digital appearances by Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, and former U.S. President Barack Obama. Obama’s new memoir, “A Promised Land,” was revealed this week and offered nearly 890,000 copies within the U.S. and Canada in its first 24 hours.
The prize normally brings the victor an enormous enhance in gross sales and profile, and infrequently sparks a debate concerning the state of the English-language literary scene.
This 12 months’s six finalists embrace 4 debut novelists — Doshi, Cook, Stuart and Taylor — and omits high-profile books together with “The Mirror and the Light,” the conclusion of Hilary Mantel’s acclaimed Tudor trilogy. Mantel received the Booker for each its predecessors, “Wolf Hall” and “Bring up the Bodies” and had been widely tipped for the hat trick.
Founded in 1969, the prize is open to English-language authors from around the world, but until 2014 only British, Irish and Commonwealth writers were eligible.
That year’s change sparked fears among some Britons that it would become a U.S.-dominated prize. That hasn’t happened, yet. There have been two American winners, Paul Beatty‘s “The Sellout” in 2016 and George Saunders’ “Lincoln within the Bardo” in 2017.
Last 12 months’s prize was received collectively by Canada’s Margaret Atwood for “The Testaments” and Britain’s Bernardine Evaristo for “Girl, Woman, Other.”