Dubai-based Indian-origin author Avni Doshi is among the 13 authors longlisted for the prestigious 2020 Booker Prize for her debut novel ‘Burnt Sugar’, alongside double Booker winner Hilary Mantel for ‘The Mirror and The Light’. The so-called “Booker Dozen” was unveiled on 28 July 2020 after judges evaluated 162 novels published in the UK or Ireland between October 2019 and September 2020, with a shortlist of six to be whittled down by September in time for the 50,000-pound literary prize in November.
What
  1. Doshi, born in the US and now living in Dubai, has previously spoken about the long journey to her first novel, which was released in India last year as ‘Girl in White Cotton’ and gets a UK release this as ‘Burnt Sugar’.
  2. For the coveted Booker, Doshi goes head to head with literary heavyweight Mantel, who is in the running for her final instalment in her series set in King Henry VIII’s 16th century England.
  3. The Mirror and the Light completes a tragic arc in which Thomas Cromwell [Henry VII’s Minister] is finally brought down by the police state he designed. Mantel’s masterful exhibition of sly dialogue and exquisite description brings the Tudor world alive, the judges said, in reference to her book.
  4. British and Scottish nominees this year include Gabriel Krauze for ‘Who They Was’, Douglas Stuart for ‘Shuggie Bain’ and Sophie Ward for ‘Love and Other Thought Experiments’. Zimbabwean writer Tsitsi Dangarembga is nominated for the third novel in her trilogy — ‘This Mournable Body’.
  5. The rest of the longlist is largely dominated by US-based authors, including Diane Cook for ‘The New Wilderness’, Colum McCann for ‘Apeirogon’, Maaza Mengiste for ‘The Shadow King’, Kiley Reid for ‘Such a Fun Age’, Brandon Taylor for ‘Real Life’, Anne Tyler for ‘Redhead by The Side of The Road’, and C Pam Zhang for ‘How Much of These Hills is Gold’.
Flashback
  1. The Booker Prize for Fiction is open to writers of any nationality, writing in English and published in the UK or Ireland. 
  2. The shortlist of six books will be announced on September 15, with each shortlisted author receiving 2,500 pounds and a specially bound edition of their book at the prize ceremony scheduled for November.
  3. The 2019 Booker Prize for Fiction was won jointly by ‘The Testaments’ by Margaret Atwood and ‘Girl, Woman, Other’ by Bernardine Evaristo
  4. First awarded in 1969, the Booker Prize is recognised as the leading prize for literary fiction written in English.
  5. The rules of the prize were changed at the end of 2013 to embrace the English language “in all its vigour, its vitality, its versatility and its glory”, opening it up to writers beyond the UK and Commonwealth, providing they were writing novels in English and published in the UK.