Two African women authors, four others make final shortlist for 2020 Booker prize
London, Sep. 15, 2020 (AltAfrica)-Two African women writers and four others have made been the final shortlist for this year’s Booker Prize
The African shortlists are Zimbabwean writer Tsitsi Dangarembga, who was arrested and jailed for her courageous protest against the Zimbabwean regime on July 31 and Maaza Mengiste an Ethiopian-American writer and author
With four writers of colour among its six authors, the shortlist, announced on Tuesday, is the most diverse line-up in the prize’s history.
The Zimbabwean writer Tsitsi Dangarembga, who was arrested and jailed for her courageous protest against the Zimbabwean regime on July 31, was today named as one of the six finalists for the Booker Prize.— Geoffrey York (@geoffreyyork) September 15, 2020
Four debut novelists – Diane Cook, Avni Doshi, Douglas Stuart and Brandon Taylor – are up against the acclaimed Zimbabwean Tsitsi Dangarembga, and the Ethiopian-American Maaza Mengiste for the £50,000 award
Apart from Dangarembga, all the authors are from the US or hold joint US citizenship.
Dangarembga, who was recently arrested in Harare during a peaceful protest against government corruption and who is due in court on 18 September, made the Booker line-up for This Mournable Body. A sequel to her 1988 novel Nervous Conditions, it follows a woman trying to make a life for herself in post-colonial Zimbabwe.
Mengiste, shortlisted for her story of the ordinary people who rose up during Italy’s 1935 invasion of Ethiopia, The Shadow King, is the first Ethiopian writer to make the Booker shortlist, after rules were changed in 2014 to allow any writer writing in English and published in the UK to compete for the award.
The change was widely criticised by the British publishing industry, which warned it would lead to its domination by American authors. Two US writers, George Saunders and Paul Beatty, have won the Booker since the rule change.
Other nominees are Diane Cook, Avni Doshi, Douglas Stuart and Brandon Taylor.
“No one wins the Booker prize because of who they are. A book wins because of what it does,” said Gaby Wood, literary director of the Booker Prize Foundation as the shortlist was announced. “What has transpired is a testament to the judges’ faith in – among other things – first fictions: they have found these writers to have much to say, and found them to have said it in a way that became even richer on a second reading.”
“Every year, judging the Booker prize is an act of discovery. What’s out there, how can we widen the net, how do these books seem when compared to one another, how do they fare when re-read? These are questions judges always ask themselves, and each other,” said Wood