ADDIS ABABA – Ethiopian-American Maaza Mengiste was on Tuesday shortlisted for the Booker Prize for best English-language fiction, to be awarded in November.
Maaza’s “The Shadow King” will compete with three other debut novelists including Zimbabwean author Tsitsi Dangarembga whose “This Mournable Body”, the final part in a trilogy, make up the six-strong shortlist of four women and two men.
American Avni Doshi’s first novel “Burnt Sugar” will compete with fellow U.S. debutants Diane Cook (“The New Wilderness”) and Brandon Taylor (“Real Life”), and Scotland’s Douglas Stuart (“Shuggie Bain”), for one of the world’s most celebrated literary awards.
It was whittled down by a panel of five judges from a US-dominated longlist of 13 finalists, which had included veteran Hilary Mantel, according to AFP news agency.
“The shortlist of six came together unexpectedly, voices and characters resonating with us all even when very different,” Margaret Busby, chair of the 2020 judges, said in a statement.
“It’s a wondrous and enriching variety of stories, and hugely exciting as well,” she added, noting they ranged in setting from 1980s Glasgow and post-colonial Zimbabwe to 1930s Ethiopia and modern-day India.
Maaza is the first Ethiopian author to make the Booker’s shortlist, for her story of the uprising against the Italian invasion in the 1930s.
The title of the best work of English-language fiction published in the United Kingdom and Ireland has launched careers and caused countless arguments since its creation in 1969.
Past laureates have ranged from contemporary giants such as Ian McEwan and Julian Barnes to Kazuo Ishiguro and Roddy Doyle.
The winner will be announced on November 17 and receive £50,000 in prize money and international attention.