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Queen Mary graduate nominated for 2020 Booker Prize

Gabriel Krauze studied English Literature at Queen Mary University of London and has been longlisted for the 2020 Booker Prize for his debut novel Who They Was.

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A photograph of author Gabriel Krauze (Credit: The Booker Prize)
A photograph of author Gabriel Krauze (Credit: The Booker Prize)

Gabriel Krauze was born in London to Polish parents who fled the country’s communist regime in the 1970s. Growing up in South Kilburn, he became involved in crime at an early age but went on to achieve great success in later life.

Now in his thirties, he has left the world of criminality behind him, insisting that he is a different person, recapturing his life through writing. Speaking to The Times he also described how he, along with many others, became involved in crime. He said: “It’s terrible. But I will show how people get sucked into that life. Because it’s not just me. Who They Was is the story of cities everywhere.”

Transformative power of education

In the run-up to the publication of his novel, Krauze also revealed that he was a keen student and never missed a lecture whilst studying English Literature at Queen Mary University of London. He said: “I never ever wanted to be late or skip a lecture. I’d see these students bunking off and think “why do you even want to be here?”

In addition to his writing, Gabriel also speaks fluent Italian and has grade eight piano. Who They Was has been described as an autobiographical fiction which delves into Krauze’s tense double life.

Dr Rachael Gilmour, Head of English at Queen Mary said: “Gabriel's time as a student of English, as well as his writing career since, reflect the School of English and Drama's longstanding commitment to the transformative power of literature and ideas. We are so proud that his debut novel has been Booker Prize longlisted - and we'll be encouraging our current students to read it and be inspired.”

2020 Booker Prize

Widely regarded as the UK’s foremost literary award, the Booker Prize recognises the best novel written in English and published in the UK and Ireland, as voted for by a panel of expert judges.

Other authors that have made the list in 2020 include bestseller Hilary Mantel. The shortlist will be announced on Tuesday 15 September with the winner revealed on Tuesday 27 October.

More information

For media information, contact:

Paul Jordan
Faculty Communications Manager (HSS)
email: p.jordan@qmul.ac.uk