Why the Booker Prize longlist is the highlight of my year

As a culture reporter, this is my Olympics, writes Clémence Michallon

Thursday 29 July 2021 12:14
<p>Pick your next best read (Booker Prize/PA)</p>

Pick your next best read (Booker Prize/PA)

It happens every year in July. As we settle into our summer selves and the sweltering heat pummels our bodies and brains, the Booker Prize longlist drops. From the outside, my work doesn’t look any different from usual. I sit at my desk. I type. But on the inside? On the inside, I’m thrilled. I’m on the edge of my seat. Because the Booker Prize longlist has arrived, and this is my Olympics.

This year’s longlist, unveiled at precisely 00:01am BST on Tuesday, is no exception. Covering major literary prizes is always one of the highlights of my year as a culture writer. I love the secrecy of it. I love the excitement. I love seeing some incredible up-and-coming authors being celebrated and given the recognition they deserve.

In case this wasn’t evident, I’m a committed book person (by which I mean I have too many books and not enough room in the flat I share with my husband and our dog). I’ve written two novels myself, one in French and one in English. And I love authors like some people love rock stars. Announcements like the Booker Prize longlist mean that, for a few hours a year, books are major headline news. People cheer. Some are ecstatic; some are disappointed. There’s discourse. There’s drama. For a few hours, it feels like books matter to absolutely everyone.

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