Week 40/20 – week ending 2 October

Booker moves prizegiving to avoid Obama clash

The 2020 Booker Prize winner announcement will now take place from the Roundhouse on Thursday 19 November, rather than on the previously announced date of 17 November. This decision has been taken to avoid a clash with the publication of Barack Obama’s memoirs, A Promised Land (Viking).

Gaby Wood, literary director of the Booker Prize Foundation, said: “We thought it unfortunate that two of the most exciting literary events of the year – the announcement of the winner of the 2020 Booker Prize and the publication of Barack Obama’s memoirs – were due to fall on the same day, so we’ve decided to give readers a couple of days’ breathing space.

“Our unprecedented ceremony without walls, devised in collaboration with the BBC, will take place across multiple platforms on 19 November instead. Details about how to watch and take part will be announced shortly.”

Normally the prize is awarded at a formal dinner for 400 at The Guildhall in the City in October, but that event had already fallen victim to the pandemic. Critics will see this latest announcement as further evidence of a growing American influence on the Booker, whose new funders are based in America and which has a majority-American shortlist this year. Moving the date of the prize to avoid the release of a single book has never happened before in the history of the Booker.

Trevor Noah takes top prize at South African Book Awards

This year a record number of booksellers voted for their favourite titles, in three categories, from a shortlist of bestselling titles published in South Africa and written by South African authors, as measured by Nielsen BookScan South Africa in 2019. Trevor Noah’s Born a Crime (Pan Macmillan South Africa) won the overall prize and was also announced as the winner of the Children’s award in the online ceremony.

Noah said: “This book was my blood, sweat and tears. It was my family’s story and my country’s story.”  Born a Crime was adapted for younger readers from Born a Crime: And Other Stories – the #1 South African and New York Times bestseller. This adaptation has sold over 8,000 copies in South Africa and the original edition published in 2016 has sold almost 120,000 copies.

The Adult Fiction prize was won by Jackie Phamotse, a self-published author, for her book Bare: The Cradle of the Hockey Club. The Adult Non-Fiction prize was won by Pieter du Toit for Stellenbosch Mafia.

The Award Ceremony was also covered live on social media using #SABookAwards. The special virtual ceremony was hosted by SABA (South African Booksellers Association), sponsored by Nielsen Book and supported by PASA (Publisher’s Association of South Africa). Over the last 20 years the awards have recognised books written and published in South Africa, as voted for by South African booksellers, and recent winners have included Sam Beckbessinger, Jacques Pauw and Sally Andrew.