The 2022 Booker Prize Shortlist
Six shortlisted authors have been revealed, representing five different nationalities and four continents and the oldest author ever to be shortlisted. Alan Garner, whose book Treacle Walker, a novella that explores themes of folklore and time, will turn 88 on the day of the prize ceremony on October 17.
The shortlist of novels for this year’s Booker Prize has been announced. A panel of judges eliminated the longlist of 13 books to the following six titles:
NoViolet Bulawayo (Zimbabwean), Glory
Percival Everett (US), The Trees
Alan Garner (British), Treacle Walker
Shehan Karunatilaka (Sri Lankan), The Seven Moons of Maali Almeida
Claire Keegan (Irish), Small Things Like These
Elizabeth Strout (US), Oh William!
Many of the novels are inspired by real-life events. NoViolet Bulawayo’s Glory is a satire that echoes Animal Farm, based around the fall of Robert Mugabe, Claire Keegan’s Small Things Like These explores the Magdalene Laundry abuses in 1980s Ireland, and Percival Everett’s The Trees evokes the real-life lynching of Emmett Till in Mississippi in 1955. Shehan Karunatilaka’s The Seven Moons of Maali Almeida, meanwhile, is set during the Sri Lankan civil war.
The final title on the shortlist, Elizabeth Strout’s Oh William!, is the third novel in the author’s Lucy Barton series, and follows Lucy’s reflections on marriage following the death of her second husband.
This year’s shortlist is notable for having an even split between male and female writers.
Announcing the shortlist live from the Serpentine Pavilion in London, Booker Prize judges chair Neil MacGregor said judges are “completely free to set their own criteria” but that they were looking for authors who “created a world, an imagined world that we can feel as our own.” In all six books, he said, “Something momentous happens to an individual or to a society. They realize what they are and what they can become.”
They’re also “not too long,” showing “great editing,” he joked.
The other judges were academic and broadcaster Shahidha Bari; historian Helen Castor; novelist and critic M. John Harrison; and novelist, poet and professor Alain Mabanckou.
The Booker Prize was first awarded in 1969 and is widely considered to be the leading award for literary fiction written in the English language.
Last year, Damon Galgut’s novel The Promise, which dissects the downfall of a white South African family, was named the winner. The winner receives £50,000 and can expect international recognition and a dramatic increase in global book sales.
Previous winners include Salman Rushdie, VS Naipaul, Hilary Mantel, Bernadine Evaristo and Margaret Atwood.
This year the Booker Prize organizers held a competition for book clubs across the United Kingdom. Gaby Wood, director of the Booker Prize Foundation said that among the six that were chosen were a club in Glasgow where they bake cakes to match the books and a club in Swansea that’s been meeting together for 40 years. The clubs will each be assigned one of the shortlisted books to read and review on social media. Members of one club will win the chance to attend the announcement of the Booker Prize winner in October.
The 2022 winner will be announced on 17 October in a ceremony held at the Roundhouse. For the first time since 2019, the final will be held fully in person.