All authors and literature buffs wait for fall as it brings with it the award season. The winners of the Nobel Prize in Literature, Booker Prize, and National Book Awards often landing in quick succession. But this year, another major literary event is occupying the minds of the readers: the release of former President Barack Obama’s memoir, “A Promised Land.”
On Tuesday, the Booker Prize said it was moving its award ceremony, previously scheduled for Nov. 17, to Nov. 19 to avoid overlapping with the publication of Mr. Obama’s book. “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,” Gaby Wood, literary director of the Booker Prize Foundation, said in a statement.
It is unusual for the Booker, one of the most prestigious literary awards in the world, to delay its prize announcement for a single book’s release. The date change highlights how much gravitational pull Mr. Obama’s book has.
The Booker, which in previous years has been announced in October, will now be awarded directly after the National Book Awards, which will take place in an online ceremony on Nov. 18, potentially creating a logjam of coverage that could dilute the impact of the prizes.
“With them coming as close as they are to us, of course, we’re concerned, we’re worried for our authors,” Lisa Lucas, the executive director of the National Book Foundation, which administers the National Book Awards, said in an interview. “It’s difficult to have a prize like the Booker, which didn’t need to participate in the American landscape in the years before their change, but now you have American books dominating the Booker list. They are now having to function on some level alongside our prizes.”
You can check out books that have been shortlisted for the Booker Prize 2020 here.