Child, Busby and Sissay join 2020 Booker Prize judging panel

Child, Busby and Sissay join 2020 Booker Prize judging panel

Lee Child will be a judge for the 2020 Booker Prize, it has been revealed, joining a panel including author Lemn Sissay and chaired by Margaret Busby.

Classicist Emily Wilson, author of six books, and writer and Prospect magazine critic Sameer Rahim will complete the panel, selecting entries published in the UK between 1st October 2019 and 30th September 2020. 

Chair of judges Busby became the UK’s first black woman publisher and also its youngest when she co-founded Allison & Busby in 1967. An independent editor, writer, broadcaster and critic since the 1990s, she has contributed to many publications, judged numerous literary prizes and relentlessly campaigned for diversity in the publishing industry. 

 Margaret Busby (Photo by Luke Daniels)

In the 1980s, she also rented her flat in Notting Hill to a young Ben Okri, who wrote his début novel The Famished Road (Vintage) there, a book which won the Booker Prize in 1991. 

She said: "For more than half a century the Booker Prize has saluted brilliant and thought-provoking writing.  I am honoured and delighted by this challenging opportunity to contribute to the judging process alongside such a great panel."

Child’s potential involvement was first reported last year after author Andy Martin revealed the bestselling Jack Reacher writer had received an invitation and was keen, providing he could do most of the judging from the US.

The Booker Dozen will be announced in July 2020 followed by a shortlist of six books in September. The winner of the £50,000 prize, sponsored by Crankstart, will be announced on 27th October at London’s Guildhall. 

Organisers may be hoping for a less controversial ceremony this year after last year’s panel, led by Peter Florence, deliberately broke the rules and chose two winners—Bernardine Evaristo’s Girl, Woman, Other (Hamish Hamilton) and Margaret Atwood’s The Testaments (Chatto & Windus).

Gaby Wood, literary director of the Booker Prize Foundation, said: "Judging the Booker Prize is a collective act of investigation and understanding: seeking the best in new fiction and being receptive to its many possibilities. This year’s five judges are, in engagingly different ways, expert readers of the world. Their powers of perception have broken barriers in their respective fields, and I’m looking forward to knowing what their minds will find when they join forces."