Who is Leila Mottley, the youngest writer on Booker’s long list?


Mottley, 20, the youngest writer to appear on Booker’s long list, has penned a gripping story of child sexual abuse in ‘Nightcrawling’. Her entry has literature buffs talking about her short but glittering career and a book all the more relevant in a post-Black Lives Matter America.

Booker’s long list includes this year’s youngest and oldest writers. Leila Mottley, 20, is on the list for her book Nightcrawling. Image Courtesy: @leilamottley/Twitter

Booker’s long list announced on Tuesday is an interesting curation of authors that is broadly divided not only by nationality but also by age. This year’s list includes the youngest and oldest nominees ever for the fiction award.

After six decades in print, British writer Alan Garner appears on Booker’s long list for the first time with Molasses walker. Meanwhile, at the age of 20, Leila Mottley has long been listed for Crawl.

The list also includes authors from the US, UK, Ireland, Sri Lanka and Zimbabwe.

According to the news agency AFP, Mottley is one of the top three novelists on the list, alongside Britain’s Maddie Mortimer for Maps of our Spectacular Bodies and the American writer Selby Wynn Schwartz for After Sappho.

It’s Mottley’s entry that has book clubs and literature buffs talking about her short but distinguished career and a book that’s still relevant. Let’s take a look:

Who is Leila Mottley?

At 20, Mottley is the youngest writer to appear on Booker’s long list. Even though she hit the global platform at this age, she has been a star since childhood.

Very early in her life, she turned to literature, largely influenced by her father, a playwright. She first made it big by becoming Oakland’s 2018 Youth Poet Laureate at the age of 16. She placed second the previous two consecutive years.

With the consistent recognition she received for her published works in magazines and her live performances at slam-poetry sessions, Mottley became a familiar face on the California literary scene.

She started writing Crawl while she was still in high school and finished it at the age of 17. The New York Times reported that she approached her teacher, Ruth Ozeki, for counseling at Smith College in Northampton, Massachusetts.

Ozeki, who is this year’s Women’s Prize-winning novelist, ran her the New York-based boutique literary agency Friedrich Agency, which sold the book in a 13-way auction to the publisher Knopf during the pandemic, in time for Mottley’s 18th birthday.

What is his book about?

The book centers on a sex abuse scandal involving several members of the Oakland Police Department in the United States and a Richmond-based sex worker. The scandal erupted in September 2015, when a police officer committed suicide, leaving behind a note that blew the lid off the scandal.

The scandal made headlines as the sex worker had been underage for some time during these encounters, The Indian Express reported.

The case was finally settled in 2017 when the city of Oakland paid the then 19-year-old woman $1 million in compensation, but with no admission of liability.

As all of this unfolded and an investigation was underway in 2016, 14-year-old Mottley was following the case with great interest.

She observed that in the midst of all the media circus, the fate of a young woman seemed to go unnoticed and the whole investigation surrounded the police force.

The case had a lasting impact on Mottley’s young mind as it served as the basis for his first novel, Crawl.

It tells the story of 17-year-old Kiara Johnson trying to make ends meet and caring for her brother and an abandoned child next door in an East Oakland apartment complex. While looking for a job, she ends up as a juvenile sex worker.

Her world opens up even more when her name surfaces in an investigation that reveals her as a key witness in a huge scandal within the Oakland Police Department.

Since its release in June, the book, Night Crawl, quickly made it onto the bestseller lists. It was chosen by Oprah Winfrey’s book club as the pick of the month.

According The Indian Expressthe American talk show host praised the book’s deep lyricism and interpretation of an “introspective portrait of survival and hope”.

A shortlist of six books will be announced on September 6 and the winner will be crowned on October 17 at a ceremony in London.

With contributions from agencies

Read all Recent news, New trends, Cricket News, bollywood news,
India News and Entertainment News here. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.


Comments are closed.