Colson Whitehead was born in 1969, and was raised in Manhattan. After graduating from Harvard College, he started working at the Village Voice, where he wrote reviews of television, books, and music. He is the author of The Nickel Boys, The Underground Railroad, The Noble Hustle, Zone One, Sag Harbor, The Intuitionist, John Henry Days, Apex Hides the Hurt, and one collection of essays, The Colossus of New York. He has received a MacArthur Fellowship, A Guggenheim Fellowship, a Whiting Writers Award, the Dos Passos Prize, and a fellowship at the Cullman Center for Scholars and Writers. He lives in New York City.
Before winning this year’s Orwell Prize for Political Fiction, his latest novel The Nickel Boys also won the Pulitzer Prize, making him only the fourth writer ever to win the Pulitzer Prize for fiction twice.
Ali Smith was born in Inverness in 1962. Her novel The Accidental was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize and the Orange Prize. How to be both won the Bailey’s Prize, the Goldsmiths Prize and the Costa Novel of the Year Award, and was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize. Autumn was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize 2017 and Winter was shortlisted for the Orwell Prize 2018. Ali Smith lives in Cambridge.
Attica Locke is the author of Bluebird, Bluebird which won the CWA Steel Dagger and an Edgar Award; Pleasantville, which won the 2016 Harper Lee Prize for Legal Fiction and was longlisted for the Baileys Women’s Prize for Fiction; Black Water Rising, which was nominated for an Edgar Award and shortlisted for the Orange Prize; and The Cutting Season, a national bestseller and winner of the Ernest Gaines Award for Literary Excellence. She worked on the adaptation of Celeste Ng’s Little Fires Everywhere and Ava DuVernay’s Netflix series about the Central Park Five, When They See Us. A native of Houston, Texas, Attica lives in Los Angeles, California, with her husband and daughter.
Bernardine Evaristo is the Anglo-Nigerian award-winning author of several books of fiction and verse fiction that explore aspects of the African diaspora: past, present, real, imagined. Her writing also spans short fiction, reviews, essays, drama and writing for BBC radio. She is Professor of Creative Writing at Brunel University, London, and Vice Chair of the Royal Society of Literature. She was made an MBE in 2009. As a literary activist for inclusion Bernardine has founded a number of successful initiatives, including Spread the Word writer development agency (1995-ongoing); the Complete Works mentoring scheme for poets of colour (2007-2017) and the Brunel International African Poetry Prize (2012-ongoing). www.bevaristo.com
Since her debut novel The Country Girls Edna O’Brien has written over twenty works of fiction along with a biography of James Joyce and Lord Byron. She is the recipient of many awards including the Irish Pen Lifetime Achievement Award, the American National Art’s Gold Medal and the Ulysses Medal. Born and raised in the west of Ireland she has lived in London for many years.
Lucy Ellmann is the author of Ducks, Newburyport, which won the 2019 Goldsmiths Prize, and was shortlisted for the 2019 Booker Prize and Saltire Fiction Book of the Year Award. She was born in Illinois and dragged to England as a teenager. Her first novel, Sweet Desserts, won the Guardian Fiction Prize. It was followed by Varying Degrees of Hopelessness, Man or Mango? A Lament, Dot in the Universe, Doctors & Nurses and Mimi. She now lives in Edinburgh.
Minoli Salgado is the author of A Little Dust on the Eyes (Peepal Tree Press, 2014), which won the first SI Leeds Literary Prize and was longlisted for the DSC Prize in South Asian Literature, and Writing Sri Lanka: Literature, Resistance and the Politics of Place (Routledge, 2007). Her short stories and poems have been published internationally and she was selected as the Olympic poet for Sri Lanka for the Cultural Olympiad in London 2012. She is Professor of International Writing at Manchester Metropolitan University.
Deborah Levy is a British playwright, novelist and poet. She is the author of seven novels. Swimming Home was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize 2012; Hot Milk was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize 2016 and the Goldsmiths Prize 2016. Deborah is also the author of an acclaimed collection of short stories, Black Vodka (2013), and two ‘living autobiographies’, Things I Don’t Want To Know and The Cost of Living. She has written for the Royal Shakespeare Company and is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature.
Ruby Cowling was born in Bradford and now lives in London. This Paradise is her first book. Her stories have won The White Review Prize (2014) and the London Short Story Prize (2014) among others and been widely published in journals and anthologies, including Lighthouse, The Letters Page, Unthology, and The Lonely Crowd.
John Lanchester was born in Hamburg in 1962. He has worked as a football reporter, obituary writer, book editor, restaurant critic, and deputy editor of the London Review of Books, where he is a contributing editor. His books have won the Hawthornden Prize, the Whitbread First Novel Prize, E.M Forster Award, and the Premi Llibreter, been longlisted for the Booker Prize, and been translated into twenty-five languages. He is married, has two children and lives in London.
Ben Lerner was born in Topeka, Kansas, in 1979. He has received fellowships from the Fulbright, Guggenheim, and MacArthur Foundations, and is the author of three internationally acclaimed novels, Leaving the Atocha Station, 10:04 and The Topeka School. He has published the poetry collections The Lichtenberg Figures, Angle of Yaw (a finalist for the National Book Award), Mean Free Path and No Art as well as the essay The Hatred of Poetry. Lerner lives and teaches in Brooklyn.
Regina Porter is an award-winning playwright and a graduate of the Iowa Writers Workshop, where she was an Iowa Arts Fellow. She was born in Savannah, Georgia and lives in Brooklyn. The Travelers is her first novel.
James Meek is the author of six novels. He has also written two collections of short stories and two books of non-fiction, Private Island, which won the 2015 Orwell Prize and Dreams of Leaving and Remaining. He is a Contributing Editor to the London Review of Books and writes regularly for the Guardian and New York Times. He lives in London.
“The luminous prose of Jacqueline Crooks’s stories thread together the migratory entanglements of Indian coolie labour and Black enslavement in the Carribbean at the turn-of-the-century through to London in the 2010s and back again. The Ice Migration’s striking parabolic structure disrupts linear trajectories of time and geography; haunting, visions, and duppies trouble the progression of modernity. The concatenated sketches in this family history explore survival, pain, and often tender, lyrical moments in the midst of the grand scale of colonial and postcolonial injustices.”
“Nick Drnaso’s subdued yet searing graphic novel depicts the collision between fake news and real tragedy in our contemporary media climate. Drnaso’s understated art style underscores the collateral damage from the trauma of a missing loved one, while the complex layering of the comics panels conveys the uneven tempos of grief and the creeping nature of doubt and paranoia. Sabrina questions the divisions between authoritative and informal processes of knowledge production and manipulation from the level of internet forums to the apparatuses of national security.”
“Red Clocks carves out a space of its own in the tradition of
feminist near-future dystopias. Here¹s a North America not gaudily
reinvented but just slightly tweaked from our own, and the more disturbing
for it. Roe vs Wade has been overturned; abortion criminalised; the
two-parent family now not so much normal as compulsory. In several voices,
with huge narrative pace and literary artfulness, Leni Zumas evokes the
effect on that of the everyday lives of the several different women whose
intersecting stories it describes.”
Milkman won the Man Booker Prize in 2018 the National Book Critics Circle Award in 2019. Anna Burns, born in Belfast, is the author of two other novels, No Bones and Little Constructions, and of the novella, Mostly Hero. No Bones won the Winifred Holtby Memorial Prize and was shortlisted for the Orange Prize for Fiction.
Milkman is a remarkable book — recording a specific time and a specific conflict with brilliant precision but universal in its account of how political allegiances crush and deform our instinctive human loyalties. Its tone of voice — wry and funny, furious and compassionate — is a marvel.”
Tom Sutcliffe, Chair of judges
“Novuyo Rosa Tshuma’s House of Stone takes us through the transformation of Rhodesia into Zimbabwe in the deeply unreliable company of Zamani, whose drive to re-invent his own history mirrors the strategic amnesia and myth-making of those who lost power and those who currently hold it. A funny, vivid, deeply serious novel which belies its blithely amoral narrative voice.”