Colum McCann is the only Irish author to make it onto the 2020 Booker Prize longlist. The Booker Prize is for the best work of English-language fiction published in the United Kingdom and Ireland. McCann has been nominated for Apeirogon, about an Israeli and a Palestinian father coming together over shared grief at losing their children. He was also longlisted for his book TransAtlantic in 2013. The Booker Prize panel called Apeirogon “a moving reflection on what it might mean to make peace between two warring sides.” Speaking to RTÉ’s Morning Ireland, McCann said he was “shocked” to be longlisted, describing it as a “tremendous honour. I’m very cognisant of the fact there were many other Irish books that could have made the list,” he said. “Without sounding cliché, I hope I can fly the flag.”
This year’s thirteen title longlist – which will be reduced to a shortlist of six on 15 September with the winner unveiled in November – features nine female authors. Eight debut novelists are up against veterans Hilary Mantel and Tsitsi Dangarembga for the prize. The five-judge panel picked through 162 novels, either published or scheduled for release in the 12 months ending on 30 September. Britain is represented by Hilary Mantel for her novel The Mirror & The Light, as well as debutants Sophie Ward and Gabriel Krauze. Mantel won the Booker in 2009 for Wolf Hall and in 2012 for Bring Up the Bodies.
Panel chair Margaret Busby said the longlist features “novels carried by the sweep of history”, works that “represent a moment of cultural change, or the pressures an individual faces in pre- and post-dystopian society”. The 2020 winner will receive €55,000 “and can expect international recognition”.