Mengiste was nominated for her book, The Shadow King, and Dangarembga’s This Mournable Body. Both literary works which have been hailed by critics and writers alike had different themes. While the former tells the story of the war in Ethiopia caused by the invasion of Benito Musolini in 1935, the latter describes the event in Zimbabwe before and after Independence.
The Booker Prize award which is a leading literary award that recognises and reward works of fiction written in English and published in the UK or Ireland has a stellar list of other nominees such as The New Wilderness by Diane Cook, Burnt Sugar by Avni Doshi, Shuggie Bain by Douglas Stuart and Real Life by Brandon Taylor for the 2020 edition.
Both writers expressed delight at their nominations and alluded to the bundle of talents and the need to stay focused on one’s art despite delayed gratification. According to Mengiste, “It is a confirmation of the talent that exists on the continent, it is letting African writers know that their work is noticed, it is being read.” Dangarembga said that, “I do think that maybe it is inspiring for younger writers who are earlier in their careers, who realise that sometimes it does not just happen all at once, that it takes time and you have to be dedicated and to really have a story you want to tell.”
The judges for this year’s award include Lee Child, Lemn Sissay, Sameer Rahim, Emily Wilson and Margaret Busby as the chair. The award which comes with a cash prize of 50,000 pounds for the winner would be announced tomorrow, Thursday, November 19th, 2020.