Books - The Booker Prize Shortlist

The shortlist for this year's Booker Prize has been announced...

Press Release

The shortlist was revealed last night by the Chair of judges, Neil MacGregor, live from an event at the Serpentine Pavilion in London, and streamed to readers around the world via the Booker Prizes website and social media channels. The six shortlisted authors each receive £2,500 and a specially bound edition of their book.

This year’s shortlist were chosen by the 2022 judging panel: cultural historian, writer and broadcaster Neil MacGregor (Chair); academic and broadcaster Shahidha Bari; historian Helen Castor; novelist and critic M John Harrison; and novelist, poet and professor Alain Mabanckou.

Their selection was made from 169 novels published between October 1st, 2021 and September 30th, 2022 and submitted to the prize by publishers. The Booker Prize is open to works by writers of any nationality, written in English and published in the UK or Ireland.

Readers of the six shortlisted books will witness the story of an uprising, told by a vivid chorus of animal voices; unpick a blackly comic murder mystery, which harks back to the real-life murder of the young Emmett Till; explore an introspective young mind trying to make sense of the world around him, in a fable that explores time, childhood, language, science and landscape; experience life after death in Sri Lanka in a noir investigation set against the surreal vision of the Sri Lankan civil wars; travel to Ireland where a community is in denial of its central secret in a novel dedicated to the unmarried mothers and children incarcerated in the Magdalene laundries; and visit one of literature’s immortal characters, Lucy Barton, in a tale about love, loss, and the family secrets that can erupt and bewilder us at any time.

The 2022 shortlist is:

NoViolet Bulawayo - Glory (Chatto & Windus, Vintage, Penguin Random House) - [TONY'S REVIEW IS COMING TOMORROW - ED]

Percival Everett (US) The Trees (Influx Press) - READ TONY'S REVIEW HERE

Alan Garner (British) Treacle Walker (4th Estate, HarperCollins) - READ TONY'S REVIEW HERE

Shehan Karunatilaka (Sri Lankan) The Seven Moons of Maali Almeida (Sort of Books) - READ TONY'S REVIEW HERE

Claire Keegan (Irish) Small Things Like These (Faber) - READ TONY'S REVIEW HERE

Elizabeth Strout (US) Oh William! (Viking, Penguin General, Penguin Random House) - READ TONY'S REVIEW HERE

Tony, who is reviewing all the books on the Booker Prize Longlist for us [you can read all Tony's other Booker Prize longlist reviews here - Ed], has made his own predictions for the winner, saying "My pick would be The Trees. If it was an Oscars, I'd say Alan Garner would get it as a reward for his whole career. But, based on what I've read of it so far, I think Glory might win."

Neil MacGregor, Chair of the 2022 judges, said, ‘These six books we believe speak powerfully about important things. Set in different places at different times, they are all about events that in some measure happen everywhere, and concern us all. Each written in English, they demonstrate what an abundance of Englishes there are, how many distinct worlds, real and imaginary, exist in that simple-seeming space, the Anglosphere.

‘Two — Oh, William! and Treacle Walker — are about the inner life, as a young boy and a middle-aged woman, in their particular ways, come to a new understanding of who they are and what they might become. The other four books address long national histories of cruelty and injustice, in Sri Lanka and Ireland, Zimbabwe and the United States, and in each case the enduring historical tensions provide the dilemmas in which the characters, like their societies, are put on the rack.

‘Why did we choose these six?

‘In every one, the author uses language not only to tell us what happens, but to create a world which we, outsiders, can enter and inhabit — and not merely by using words from local languages or dialects. NoViolet Bulawayo’s incantatory repetitions induct us all into a Zimbabwean community of memory and expectation, just as Alan Garner’s shamanic obliquities conjure a realm that reason alone could never access. Percival Everett and Shehan Karunatilaka spin fantastical verbal webs of Gothic horror — and humour — that could not be further removed from the hypnotic, hallucinatory clarity of Claire Keegan’s and Elizabeth Strout’s pared-down prose. Most important, all affirm the importance and the power of finding and sharing the truth.’

Gaby Wood, Director of the Booker Prize Foundation, added, ‘When this year’s Booker Prize judges sat down to decide on their shortlist, every one of the 13 books on their longlist remained in such strong contention that they knew the meeting was likely to last all day. And indeed it did. This was not a day of arguments but of re-readings, reconfigurations, relish. 

‘The shortlist that eventually emerged shows great geographical breadth as well as linguistic and conceptual agility. Together, these six novels look at history and at the lives of individuals with wit, courage and rage, allowing us to see the world through many sets of supremely perceptive eyes.’

The 2022 winner announcement, shortlist events and winner event

The 2022 winner will be announced on Monday October 17th in an award ceremony held at the Roundhouse and fully in person for the first time since 2019. The winner receives £50,000 and can expect international recognition and a dramatic increase in global book sales. The announcement will be broadcast live as part of a Front Row special on BBC Radio 4 from 9.15- 10.00pm, with TV coverage expected to run on BBC News at Ten and news channels.

Ahead of the winner announcement, there will be two opportunities for readers to hear from the shortlisted authors in person. In an event held in partnership with Waterstones, the writers will appear in conversation at the Shaw Theatre in Kings Cross, London, on Friday October 14th. Chaired by broadcaster and journalist Bidisha, the six authors will each deliver a reading from their shortlisted book.

The following day, on Saturday October 15th, the shortlisted authors will be take part in The Times & The Sunday Times Cheltenham Literature Festival. The Booker Prize shortlist event will be chaired by Director of the Booker Prize Foundation, Gaby Wood.

More about the six shortlisted books:

NoViolet Bulawayo (Zimbabwean) - Glory (Chatto & Windus, Vintage, Penguin Random House)

This energetic and exhilarating joyride from NoViolet Bulawayo is the story of an uprising, told by a vivid chorus of animal voices that help us see our human world more clearly.

A long time ago, in a bountiful land not so far away, the animals lived quite happily. Then the colonisers arrived. After nearly a hundred years, a bloody War of Liberation brought new hope for the animals - along with a new leader: a charismatic horse who commanded the sun and ruled and ruled - and kept on ruling…

Glory tells the story of a country trapped in a cycle as old as time. And yet, as it unveils the myriad tricks required to uphold the illusion of absolute power, it reminds us that the glory of tyranny only lasts as long as its victims are willing to let it.

Percival Everett (American) - The Trees (Influx Press)

A violent history refuses to be buried in Percival Everett’s striking novel, which combines an unnerving murder mystery with a powerful condemnation of racism and police violence.

Something strange is afoot in Money, Mississippi. A series of brutal murders are eerily linked by the presence at each crime scene of a second dead body: that of a man who resembles Emmett Till, a young black boy lynched in the same town 65 years before.

The investigating detectives soon discover that uncannily similar murders are taking place all over the country. As the bodies pile up, the detectives seek answers from a local root doctor, who has been documenting every lynching in the country for years…

Alan Garner (British) - Treacle Walker (4th Estate, HarperCollins)

This latest fiction from a remarkable and enduring talent brilliantly illuminates an introspective young mind trying to make sense of the world around him.

Joe Coppock squints at the world with his lazy eye. He reads his comics, collects birds' eggs and treasures his marbles, particularly his prized dobbers. When Treacle Walker appears off the moor one day - a wanderer, a healer - an unlikely friendship is forged and the young boy is introduced to a world he could never have imagined.

In this playful, moving and evocative fable, set once again in his beloved Cheshire, the masterly Alan Garner delivers both a stunning fusion of myth and folklore and a profound exploration of the fluidity of time.

Shehan Karunatilaka (Sri Lankan) - The Seven Moons of Maali Almeida (Sort of Books)

Shehan Karunatilaka’s rip-roaring epic is a searing, mordantly funny satire set amid the murderous mayhem of a Sri Lanka beset by civil war.

Colombo, 1990. Maali Almeida, war photographer, gambler and closet queen, has woken up dead in what seems like a celestial visa office. His dismembered body is sinking in the Beira Lake and he has no idea who killed him. At a time when scores are settled by death squads, suicide bombers and hired goons, the list of suspects is depressingly long.

But even in the afterlife, time is running out for Maali. He has seven moons to try and contact the man and woman he loves most and lead them to a hidden cache of photos that will rock Sri Lanka.

Claire Keegan (Irish) - Small Things Like These (Faber)

Claire Keegan’s tender tale of hope and quiet heroism is both a celebration of compassion and a stern rebuke of the sins committed in the name of religion.

It is 1985, in an Irish town. During the weeks leading up to Christmas, Bill Furlong, a coal and timber merchant, faces his busiest season. As he does the rounds, he feels the past rising up to meet him - and encounters the complicit silences of a small community controlled by the Church.

Elizabeth Strout (American) - Oh William! (Viking, Penguin General, Penguin Random House)

Bestselling author Elizabeth Strout returns to her beloved heroine Lucy Barton in a luminous novel about love, loss, and the family secrets that can erupt and bewilder us at any time.

Lucy Barton is a successful writer living in New York, navigating the second half of her life as a recent widow and parent to two adult daughters. A surprise encounter leads her to reconnect with William, her first husband - and longtime, on-again/off-again friend and confidante.

Recalling their college years, the birth of their daughters, the painful dissolution of their marriage, and the lives they built with other people, Strout weaves a portrait, stunning in its subtlety, of a tender, complex, decades-long partnership.

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