Dubai-based Indian-American author Avni Doshi’s debut novel Burnt Sugar has made it to the long list for the 2020 Man Booker Prize.
Initially published in India under the title Girl in White Cotton, Burnt Sugar is a love story that is also of betrayal but not between lovers but between mother and daughter.
The book has already elicited rave reviews with Elizabeth Gilbert, bestselling author of Eat, Pray, Love, praising Avni as “a writer of surgical precision and sharp intelligence”.
“This novel of mother-and-daughter resentments and the deep, intimate cuts of ancient family history gleams like a blade — both dangerous and beautiful. I loved it.”
Fatima Bhutto, author of The Runaways, found Burnt Sugar ‘‘taut and unsettling, a dark, ferocious novel”.
The 38-year-old author, who was born in New Jersey, completed her MA in History of Art from University College London and worked as a curator and art critic before moving into fiction writing.
Avni is not new to honours. She had won the Tibor Jones South Asia Prize in 2013 and a year later the Charles Pick Fellowship at the University of East Anglia.
The 2020 longlist, or the Booker Dozen as it is known, includes 13 novels and were selected by a panel of five judges – Margaret Busby (chair), editor and literary critic; author Lee Child; author and critic Sameer Rahim; writer and broadcaster Lemn Sissay; and classicist and translator Emily Wilson.
“Each of these books carries an impact that has earned it a place on the longlist, deserving of wide readership. Included are novels carried by the sweep of history with memorable characters brought to life and given visibility, novels that represent a moment of cultural change, or the pressures an individual faces in pre- and post-dystopian society,” said Margaret Busby on the Booker Prize site.
Gaby Wood, literary director of the Booker Prize Foundation, added: “When the judges had drawn up their longlist of 13 books, one of them said: ‘Out of interest, how many debuts are there?’ We counted. It was more than half the list. That’s an unusually high proportion, and especially surprising to the judges themselves, who had admired many books by more established authors, and regretted having to let them go. It is perhaps obvious that powerful stories can come from unexpected places and in unfamiliar forms; nevertheless, this kaleidoscopic list serves as a reminder.”
The shortlist of six books will be announced on September 15 and the winner in November.
The winner receives £50,000 (Dh236,551) and a specially bound edition of their book.
The 2020 Booker Prize Long List
The New Wilderness, by Diane Cook
This Mournable Body, by Tsitsi Dangarembg
Burnt Sugar, by Avni Doshi
Who They Was, by Gabriel Krauze
The Mirror & The Light, by Hilary Mantel
Apeirogon, by Colum McCann
The Shadow King, by Maaza Mengiste
Such a Fun Age, Kiley Reid
Real Life, by Brandon Taylor
Redhead by The Side of The Road, by Anne Tyler
Shuggie Bain, by Douglas Stuart
Love and Other Thought Experiments, by Sophie Ward
How Much of These Hills is Gold, by C Pam Zhang