Dubai-based Indian-origin author Avni Doshi is among the 13 authors long listed 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 Tuesday 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. “This utterly compelling read examines a complex and unusual mother-daughter relationship with honest, unflinching realism – sometimes emotionally wrenching but also cathartic, written with poignancy and memorability,” the judges said of Doshi’s longlisted entry.
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 Thursday as ‘Burnt Sugar’. For the coveted Booker, Doshi goes head to head with literary heavyweight Mantel, who is in the running for her final installment in her series set in King Henry VIII’s 16th century England. ‘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.
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’. The rest of the long list 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’.
“Each of these books carries an impact that has earned it a place on the long list, deserving of wide readership. Included are novels carried by the sweep of history with memorable characters brought to life and given visibility, novels that represent a moment of cultural change, or the pressures an individual faces in pre- and post-dystopian society,” said editor and literary critic Margaret Busby, chair of the 2020 judging panel.