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Bestselling author Lee Child to judge the 2020 Booker Prize

Bestselling author Lee Child to judge the 2020 Booker Prize

Lee Child, the bestselling thriller writer known worldwide for his Jack Reacher series, has been invited to join the judging panel for the 2020 Booker Prize

This is a surprising selection, as places on the panel are usually reserved for classical or scholarly writers who have not found commercial success on the level of Child. 

As of 2018, Child’s 24-book series had sold more than 100 million copies worldwide, and have been translated into 40 languages. Child himself was appointed a CBE for services to literature last year, and has been described as “the strongest brand in publishing” by Forbes. Despite this, his novels typically are not regarded as high-brow works of fiction, making his invitation to the panel intriguing. 

They follow protagonist Jack Reacher, an ex-major from the US Army who begins investigating suspicious and dangerous situations in his retirement. The popularity of the character has resulted in two films, where Reacher was portrayed by Tom Cruise. A television series is also currently in production. 

Child has been open about his disappointment with the snobbery coming from the world of literature. In 2011, he told the BBC that “the literary writers are seeing lots of people reading us and relatively few people reading them, and they’re cross about it.”

However, the panel chosen is said to represent “expert readers of the world.” The other judges are author Sameer Rahim, writer Lemn Sissay, classicist Emily Wilson, and publisher Margaret Busby, who will act as the chairperson.

Last year was particularly big for the Booker Prize, with two authors being announced as joint-winners for the first time in the history of the Prize. Margaret Atwood’s The Testamentsand Bernadine Evaristo’s Girl, Woman, Other shared the title for 2019.