My 2020 Booker Wish List

Another year, another Booker Prize longlist in the offing although this year has been far from normal both in the book world and beyond with titles bouncing around the publishing schedules like tennis balls thanks to the pandemic. I’d half expected a postponement of the longlist announcement but the Booker brigade seem to be sticking to their guns.

Regular readers will know that any similarity between my wish list and the judges’ longlist is likely to be entirely coincidental. To be eligible for the prize all books must be published in the UK between October 1st 2019 and 30th September 2020 and have been written in English. The judges usually stick to twelve although they sometimes stretch to thirteen so I have, too. Their list will be revealed on Tuesday, 28th July but here’s mine – wishes not predictions, see above – in no particular order, with links to my reviews.


Cover image

The Jewel                                         Olive, Again        Love Notes From a German Building Site

Cover image Cover image Cover image for The Butchers by Ruthe Gilligan

Weather                              How Much of These Hills is Gold        The Butchers

Cover image Cover image: The Rain Heron by Robbie Arnott Cover image for The Liar's Dictionary by Eley Williams

The Blind Light                            The Rain Heron                      The Liar’s Dictionary

Shuggie Bain by Douglas Stuart Cover image for Strange Floers by Donal Ryan Cover image for Summerwater by Sarah Moss

Shuggie Bain                                Strange Flowers                      Summerwater

Cover image

The Harpy

I may well read a gem I’d loved to have included here published before mid-September when the shortlist is announced but I’m sticking to the tried and tested. And if I had to choose one? Impossible this year.

What about you? What would you like to see on the list, and what do you think the judges will plump for?

30 thoughts on “My 2020 Booker Wish List”

  1. Impossible to choose, as you say. I love the idea of being on the judging panel, while at the same time being very glad that I am not!! It is surely inevitable that The Mirror and the Light will at the very least be longlisted, but your list looks delicious and I would be very happy for any of these to be selected.

    1. Thank you, Liz. I’m always happier in the land of fantasy with prize lists. Yes, the idea of being a judge sounds lovely but I suspect the actuality is a nightmare!

  2. Gosh, is it that time of year again?! I feel more confident picking longlisters for next year’s Women’s Prize than I do predicting the longlist for the Booker. I would of course love to see Olive, Again and Weather on the list. Apart from those, I haven’t read any of your selections (though I’m currently reading the Williams and I have the Moss and Stuart coming up soon). I have a feeling the longlist will be mostly new to me, and I’m not sure I’ll be up to following along very closely this year. Two I might cautiously put forward would be The Unpassing by Chia-Chia Lin and The Bass Rock by Evie Wyld.

    1. I’m afraid it is! Much prefer the Women’s Prize and the Costas to the Boooker but I can never resist putting my wishes out there despite the fact that few, if any, will come true. I have both of those titles on my radar but good to hear you rate them highly.

  3. I’ve only read the Jenny Offill, although I have Evers on my shelves now and the Donal Ryan on order. Eley Williams is one I’m keen on getting too. I’d forgotten about The Harpy – will order that forthwith! Slightly surprised you’ve not included the new Susanna Clarke, Piranesi… I’ve read a teaser chapter and it will divide readers – but it looks bold and fascinating.

  4. There seems to be a lot of buzz about The Liar’s Dictionary at the moment, so I wouldn’t be surprised to see it on the longlist. And the Mantel will be a shoo-in, of course. Apart from that, it’s difficult to tell what might be there. I hope some of your favourites make it…

  5. I also thought the Booker organisers would postpone this year given the way the pandemic has caused delays in publication dates for so many books. Entries had to be in by March which means there may have been some submitted which should have been out by now. Expect a deluge of new titles before end Sept.

    I’ve given up predicting who might be on the longlist since I have proved so inept in that activity in recent years. I’ll only go as far as anticipating Mantel will make an appearance (well deserved)

  6. Have only read one on your list (Olive) but have a couple in the stack. I would find it impossible to predict the longlist – the number of eligible books is just too great to consider (I have a go at the Stella Prize because the field is ‘limited’ to Australian female authors).

  7. Well I haven’t read any of your choices, though several are on my radar thanks to the enthusiastic reviews from you and other bloggers. I am also surprised that the schedule hasn’t been disrupted by the pandemic.

  8. Great list! I’ve read The Jewel, Olive, Again and The Butchers. Of the others, the one I’m most keen to read is Shuggie Bain for its Scottish setting and dark themes. I also like Donal Ryan’s writing so I’m sure I’ll read his latest too.

  9. Pingback: Quick Thoughts on the Booker Prize Longlist | Bookish Beck

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