Not the Booker prize: vote now for the 2020 winner

Sam Jordison
·4 min read

It’s voting time in the 2020 Not the Booker prize. There are six books in contention:

If you click through on the links above, you’ll be able to see my reviews of each title, and the accompanying comments. If you want the general gist: it’s been a good year. All of the books have been enjoyable. Some have been really excellent.

There have been two promising debuts, from Shahnaz Ahsan and Abi Daré, both telling emotionally resonant stories about women moving to big cities in very different ways. There’s been an original and touching story about autistic heroes from Chris Bonnello. Richard Owain Roberts’s Hello Friend We Missed You was a rare and surprising gem. And there were two highly readable novels from more established names that, I would argue, were the least interesting books on our list. Emma Donoghue’s Akin had a few poignant moments and some effective comedy, but was ultimately pretty silly. Maggie O’Farrell’s Hamnet was a disappointment, partly due to the weight of expectation that came after it won the Women’s prize, but mainly because of its strange anachronisms, and insistence that Shakespeare had a magic wife, rather than her being a real woman.

That’s my opinion anyway. If you disagree, it is your chance to set me right by making your voice heard and voting for your favourite. All you have to do is nominate your pick for the winner in the comments. Please make it easy for us by starting with “Vote:”, then specifying the title and author. Just one vote, for one book, please – and we’d love to see 50 words or so explaining your choice. As ever, please don’t worry if you’ve changed your mind during the course of the competition. Democracy is an ongoing process. It’s fine to change your mind. It’s often the best thing to do.

Here’s the relevant clause from our terms and conditions:

11. The winner will be chosen via a public vote by readers who have submitted reviews of their chosen titles, in combination with a panel of readers to be selected by a process outlined in clause 12. Readers may vote for only one title at this stage – changes of mind will be governed by clause four on indecision. A vote in support of one book at shortlist stage does not rule out a subsequent valid vote in support of a different book to win the competition. Reviews may be written at any time before a vote is cast. Winner votes received after 23.59 BST on Sunday 25 October 2020 will not be counted.

If you read those conditions carefully, you’ll see that the public count is only part of the process. It’s an important part, as the winning book from the public count carries two votes into our judging meeting. There are three more votes up for grabs at that stage, to be cast by our excellent judges. These are people who have commented at each stage of the competition, helping to make the discussions fascinating and worthwhile – and consistently saying valuable things about each book. They are:

Kate Chapman, AKA Katecha

Kate moved to Berlin in the 1970s, when she visited a friend and decided to stay for a year. She lives there to this day, having taught English as a foreign language and worked as an editor and translator.

Christine Ashby, AKA Magrat123

Christine is a former lawyer who used to run science-fiction conventions and served on boards and committees for disability organisations. She now lives in Melbourne with her librarian/tech support husband, two cavalier King Charles spaniels and about 3,000 books.

Graham Fulcher, AKA MrBrown

Graham lives in Reigate with his wife, three girls and a golden retriever. He works as an actuary for a global insurer and is a voracious reader, reviewing books such as Gumble’s Yard on Goodreads.

The 2020 Not the Booker judging meeting will be held at 11am on Monday 26 October. Each judge will have one vote. With one week to go, there’s everything to play for. Let’s vote!