One silver lining of Covid-19 for booklovers has been unprecedented digital access to literary events all over the world. The Booker Prize will join that trend on November 19 with a globally accessible awards ceremony featuring readings from each of the finalists by actors, filmed onstage at London's renowned Old Vic theater.
“The year of Covid has led us to interpret in a new light the Booker Prize Foundation's purpose of promoting the art of literature for the public benefit, " said Gaby Wood, literary director of the Booker Prize Foundation.
To that end, a month of digital events leading up to the awards ceremony, including Instagram Live conversations, will highlight the six shortlisted authors: Diane Cook for The New Wilderness (Harper), Tsitsi Dangarembga for This Mournable Body (Graywolf), Avni Doshi for Burnt Sugar (Overlook, Jan. 26, 2021), Maaza Mengiste for The Shadow King (Norton), Douglas Stuart for Shuggie Bain (Grove), and Brandon Taylor for Real Life (Riverhead).
"The Booker Prize is one of the cultural landmarks of the year," said Jonty Claypole, director of BBC Arts. "A moment when we celebrate the power of literature and connect hundreds of thousands of readers with extraordinary books. Its global recognition is testament to our creative confidence as a nation and our ability to shine a light on great art wherever it comes from." Originally limited to writers from the Commonwealth and Ireland, the Booker Prize has been open to Americans since 2014, and five of this year’s six shortlisted authors live and work in the U.S.
The Booker Prize for Fiction was first awarded in 1969, and was called the Man Booker Prize for Fiction when sponsored by Man Group from 2002 to 2018. The winner receives about $64,000. In 2019, for the first time, two novels were honored: The Testaments by Margaret Atwood and Girl, Woman, Other by Bernardine Evaristo.