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Dame Hilary Mantel’s novel The Mirror And The Light misses out on Booker Prize shortlist

A panellist on this year’s Booker Prize has called for the award to be judged blind after Dame Hilary Mantel failed to reach the shortlist. 

Mantel’s third book in her Cromwell triology, titled The Mirror And The Light, featured on this year’s longlist and was hotly tipped for the prize. 

The list is chosen by judges who read PDFs of the novels without book covers so as not to be influenced.

But judge Emily Wilson says the award should go one step further and omit the names of the authors.

Dame Hilary Mantel has missed out on becoming a triple winner of the Booker Prize after failing to reach the shortlist

She told The Times that judging without knowing the author would be ‘a fantastic thing to do… to make sure we are just thinking about the writing and the storytelling’.

The classicist added it may be difficult in some cases to judge high profile authors such as Mantel who could be easily identified anyway. 

It comes as fellow judge Lee Child, author of the Jack Reacher series, said the panel thought Mantel’s book was ‘an absolutely wonderful novel’ but said ‘there were books that were better’.   

Avni Doshi’s debut novel Burnt Sugar and Maaza Mengiste’s The Shadow King are among the books shortlisted for this year’s Booker Prize.

Avni Doshi's debut novel Burnt Sugar is one of four debut novels to reach the shortlist of the Prize

Avni Doshi’s debut novel Burnt Sugar is one of four debut novels to reach the shortlist of the Prize

The New Wilderness by Diane Cook, Tsitsi Dangarembga’s This Mournable Body, Douglas Stuart’s Shuggie Bain and Real Life by Brandon Taylor are also up for the award.

Mr Child said that Mantel’s trilogy of novels is ‘one for the ages’, but added: ‘There were books that were better, that’s all I can say personally.’ 

The shortlist features four women and two men. Cook, Stuart and Taylor are also debut novelists.

The shortlist, announced at a digital press conference on Tuesday, was chosen by a panel of five judges – literary critic Margaret Busby, authors Child and Sameer Rahim, writer Lemn Sissay and classicist Emily Wilson. 

Chairwoman of the judging panel Busby said: ‘As judges we read 162 books, many of them conveying important, sometimes uncannily similar and prescient messages.

‘The best novels often prepare our societies for valuable conversations, and not just about the inequities and dilemmas of the world – whether in connection with climate change, forgotten communities, old age, racism, or revolution when necessary – but also about how magnificent the interior life of the mind, imagination and spirit is, in spite of circumstance.

Maaza Mengiste's The Shadow King, about an orphan living in Ethiopia amid the threat of invasion by Mussolini, also reached the shortlist

Maaza Mengiste’s The Shadow King, about an orphan living in Ethiopia amid the threat of invasion by Mussolini, also reached the shortlist

‘The shortlist of six came together unexpectedly, voices and characters resonating with us all even when very different.’

Doshi, who is currently based in Dubai, was born in New Jersey in 1982 and won the Tibor Jones South Asia Prize in 2013 and a Charles Pick Fellowship at the University of East Anglia in 2014.  

Burnt Sugar tells the story of the shifting power dynamics in a mother-daughter relationship when the parent, who previously enjoyed a wild life, is forced to let her child look after her as she gets older. 

A version of Burnt Sugar is published in India under the title Girl In White Cotton.

Mengiste was born in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia and spent her childhood in Nigeria, Kenya and the US after leaving Ethiopia when she was four.  

The Shadow King is about an orphan living in Ethiopia amid the threat of invasion by Mussolini. 

Lee Child said that Mantel's trilogy of novels is 'one for the ages', but added: 'There were books that were better, that's all I can say personally.'

Lee Child said that Mantel’s trilogy of novels is ‘one for the ages’, but added: ‘There were books that were better, that’s all I can say personally.’

Dangarembga, who lives in Harare, Zimbabwe, is a filmmaker, playwright and the director of the Institute of Creative Arts for Progress in Africa Trust. 

She is the author of Nervous Conditions which won the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize in 1989. 

This Mournable Body tells the story of Tambudzai who lives in a run-down youth hostel in downtown Harare and who is anxious about her prospects after leaving a stagnant job. She is faced with fresh humiliation as she tries to make a life for herself. 

Cook, who is another of the four writers shortlisted for a debut novel, lives in Brooklyn, New York, with her husband, daughter and son. 

The New Wilderness tells the story of a mother fighting to save her daughter in a world ravaged by climate change. 

Stuart’s debut novel Shuggie Bain is also shortlisted for the prize. Stuart grew up in Glasgow before moving to New York to begin a career in fashion design. 

What books are shortlisted for the Booker Prize 2020? 

The New Wilderness by Diane Cook

This Mournable Body by Tsitsi Dangarembga

Burnt Sugar by Avni Doshi

The Shadow King by Maaza Mengiste

Shuggie Bain by Douglas Stuart 

Real Life by Brandon Taylor   

Shuggie Bain tells the story of a boy who spends his 1980s childhood in run-down public housing in Glasgow. Margaret Thatcher’s policies have put people out of work and Shuggie’s mother Agnes battles alcohol addiction. 

Taylor’s Real Life is another debut shortlisted and was a New York Times Editor’s Choice. He studied at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and the University of Iowa, where he was an Iowa Arts Fellow at the Iowa Writers’ Workshop in fiction.  

It tells the story of Wallace, who is a biochemistry student at a Midwestern university, who is forced to grapple with his past trauma and question of the future after his work is destroyed and a series of intense confrontations. 

The winner will be announced on November 17. 

The shortlisted authors each receive £2,500 and a specially bound edition of their book, while the winner receives a further £50,000. 

Last year’s prize was jointly won by The Testaments by Margaret Atwood and Girl, Woman, Other by Bernardine Evaristo. 

Last month Dutch author Marieke Lucas Rijneveld was announced as the winner of the International Booker Prize for The Discomfort of Evening. 

Read more at DailyMail.co.uk


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