This year’s Booker Prize winner will be announced later, with six novelists vying for the prestigious £ 50,000 prize.
The nominees are Diane Cook, Avni Doshi, Maaza Mengiste, Douglas Stuart, Tsitsi Dangarembga and Brandon Taylor.
The ceremony, broadcast from the Roundhouse in London, will include contributions from the Duchess of Cornwall and former US President Barack Obama.
All of this year’s nominees are based outside the UK.
The Booker Prize is open to any novel written in English by an author of any nationality. Four of the six nominated books this year were written by novice novelists.
The event is broadcast live on
BBC iPlayer and BBC Arts from 19:00 GMT, with additional coverage on Front Row of BBC Radio 4 from 19:15 GMT.
Sir Kazuo Ishiguro, who won the 1989 Booker for The Remains of the Day, is also part of the socially distant proceedings, with last year’s joint laureates Margaret Atwood and Bernardine Evaristo, judge chairman Margaret Busby and, well sure, the winner.
The ceremony will feature readings produced by The Old Vic by actors Ann-Marie Duff, Thandie Newton, Ayesha Dharker, Nina Sosanya, Stuart Campbell and Paapa Essiedu, as well as a live performance from Chineke! Bedroom set.
The topics covered by the six nominees are very diverse, including stories about climate change, the hardships of life in Zimbabwe, dementia and the 1935 women soldiers in Ethiopia.
“The shortlist of six came together unexpectedly, the voices and characters resonating with all of us, even when they are very different,” said Margaret Busby when the list was announced. “We are thrilled to help bring these Chronicles of Creative Humanity to a global audience.”
The 2020 shortlist:
- Diane Cook – The New Desert
- Tsitsi Dangarembga – This sad body
- Avni Doshi – Burnt sugar
- Maaza Mengiste -The King of Shadows
- Douglas Stuart – Shuggie Bain
- Brandon Taylor – Real Life
Here is some more information about this year’s nominees and their books:
Diane Cook – The New Desert
First American novelist Diane Cook lives in Brooklyn and has established herself as an accomplished short story writer. She is a former producer of the radio show This American Life.
Her first novel tells the story of Bea and her five-year-old daughter, Agnes, who is wasting away in the smog and pollution of the metropolis they inhabit. To survive is to escape as they join a group of nomadic hunter-gatherers. They slowly learn to survive, but the process creates an unexpected and disturbing change in their relationship.
Cook is currently writing a screenplay based on the novel and Warner Bros. Television has also acquired the rights to develop it as a television series.
Tsitsi Dangarembga – This sad body
Tsitsi Dangarembga is a filmmaker and playwright. She was recently arrested in Harare, the capital of Zimbabwe, during a peaceful protest against government corruption. She is due in court on September 18. English PEN and PEN International call for the immediate dropping of all charges.
This Mournable Body is the third book in a trilogy after Nervous Conditions (1988) – winner of the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize – and The Book of Not (2006).
Returning to the protagonist of her first novel, Dangarembga tells the story of a young girl living in a dilapidated hostel in Harare. She quit her dead-end job and struggles to forge a new life for herself, but at every turn is upset, leading her to breaking point.
Avni Doshi – Burnt sugar
Avni Doshi is an early novelist born in New Jersey and currently based in Dubai.
Burnt Sugar tells the story of the changing power dynamics in a mother-daughter relationship when the parent, who previously lived in the wild, is forced to let their child care for her as she grows up.
It’s both a love story and a story of betrayal, as well as a look at the nature of false memory and how it affects our closest relationships.
Maaza Mengiste – The King of Shadows
Maaza Mengiste was born in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, and now lives in New York. His first novel was Beneath the Lion’s Gaze, which was named one of The Guardian’s 10 Best Contemporary African Books.
The Shadow King is about an orphan named Hirut living in Ethiopia in 1935 amid the threat of invasion by Mussolini.
When the Ethiopian Emperor goes into exile, Hirut disguises a peasant inside him as she becomes his guard – only to find himself forced to wage his own personal and unexpected war.
Douglas Stuart – Shuggie Bain
Douglas Stuart grew up in Glasgow and now lives in New York City, where he first settled to begin his career in fashion design. He says the winner of Booker 1994 How Late It Was, How Late by James Kelman changed his life as it was one of the first times he saw his people and dialect on the page.
For his first steps in writing novels, Stuart drew on this inspiration to write a story set in a poverty-stricken Glasgow. Here we follow Agnès Bain, who sinks into despair and alcoholism after the breakdown of her marriage.
All but one of her children have been driven away by her deterioration, and this child Shuggie is struggling to support her mother while suffering enormous personal issues.
Brandon Taylor – Real Life
Brandon Taylor is from Alabama. He is the editor of Electric Literature’s Recommended Reading and an editor of Literary Hub.
For her first novel, Taylor tells the story of Wallace, a biochemistry student, who, after weeks of tireless laboratory work, faces destruction in a scorching storm.
But weather disasters turn out to be the least of Wallace’s problems. He isolated himself from his friends as a defense mechanism against his painful past. But now he discovers the story is coming back to haunt him.