I’m sort of in love with the 2020 Booker prize longlist. I understand this is a strange thing to say about a stack of books chosen by a group of judges but, let me tell you, this is the first time I’ve seen a prize longlist like this one.
Book Twitter was excited but baffled that the offerings we usually expect to be on the list were not there. But to me, the 2020 longlist has got everything; The Mirror & the Light, obviously, because the literary world would collapse in on itself if any prize ignored the trials and tribulations of Cromwell via Mantel. It’s got American debuts from Kiley Reid and Brandon Taylor, who said of his novel Real Life: “I didn’t write this book for the white gaze”, which is only a good thing. It’s got some “best of British” offerings from Sophie Ward, Douglas Stuart and Gabriel Krauze; Who They Was, Krauze’s autobiographical novel detailing his life in a gang, is one that I had to stop and start repeatedly because it’s a little bit too real. But it is exceptional – it deserves a place on this list.
For once, this is a longlist I actually want to read, so soon I’ll be able to say that they all deserve their place. I won’t get carried away and say that times are changing – but maybe they are.