The 2021 Booker Prize Judges

Announced 16 December 2021

Hot on the heels of the award of the 2020 Booker Prize to debut novel Shuggie Bain by Douglas Stuart comes the announcement today of the judges of the 2021 Booker Prize.

The panel will be chaired by historian Maya Jasanoff, and consists of: writer and editor Horatia Harrod; actor Natascha McElhone; twice Booker-shortlisted novelist and professor Chigozie Obioma; and writer and former Archbishop Rowan Williams.

Publication date:

The full press release can be downloaded here.

Gaby Wood, Literary Director of the Booker Prize Foundation, says:
‘When Douglas Stuart won the 2020 Booker Prize, he told Bernardine Evaristo, from whom he took the baton, that she had ‘lifted all voices’ and that he hoped to do her proud in the year to come. Booker Prize judges never speculate about the spirit in which the winner will accept the prize — their remit is to choose the best book, nothing else. But the warmth with which recent winners have been received by readers is a heartening consequence: the more people believe The Booker Prize is for them, the better it will be for good writing and good reading overall.

 ‘If part of the Booker’s long-term effect is to encourage a range of excellence in new writing, it does so by showing that a welcoming group of readers exists for that work. The 2021 panel of judges is stellar in that respect: distinguished and exacting, open-minded and hopeful. They are led by an historian whose global view of literature and its context is eminently equal to this global prize. I can’t wait to hear them discuss the results of their reading together.’

Chair of judges, Maya Jasanoff adds:
‘In the pandemic more than ever, reading fiction has been a great source of stimulation and solace. It’s both a pleasure and an incredible honour to get to roam the pages of this year’s Anglophone novels and shine a light on extraordinary books and writers — and to do so in the company of such accomplished fellow judges feels like a gift.’

The judging panel will be looking for the best work of long-form fiction, selected from entries published in the UK between 1 October 2020 and 30 September 2021.

The ‘Booker Dozen’ of 12 or 13 books will be announced in July 2021 with the shortlist of six books to follow in the autumn. The winner of the £50,000 prize will be announced in November 2021.

The announcement of Shuggie Bain as the 2020 winner was warmly welcomed across the world by booksellers, media and the public. The morning after the ceremony the book had jumped to the top of Amazon’s Best Sellers list. The UK publisher Picador, Pan Macmillan then revealed it was publishing an additional 150,000 copies. In the first full week after the announcement, the book sold more than 25,000 copies in the UK, a 1900% increase on the week preceding the announcement. Shuggie Bain has now sold more than 80,000 copies in the UK, an overall increase of 234% on its pre-announcement sales. It has been to Number 1 in The Times and the LA Times bestseller lists, Number 2 in The Sunday Times bestseller list, and Number 3 in The New York Times bestseller list. TV and film rights have been sold to Scott Rudin/A24 for a planned TV series, as well as translation rights to 30 territories, including an eight-way auction in China. This month, Pan Macmillan gave away 300 copies of Shuggie Bain to Streetreads, a homeless reading project, after it topped the book wishlist of its service users.


The Booker Prize is sponsored by Crankstart, a charitable foundation.