NoViolet Bulawayo, Percival Everett, Alan Garner, Shehan Karunatilaka, Claire Keegan and Elizabeth Strout are announced as the six authors shortlisted for the Booker Prize 2022
The shortlist was revealed this evening 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.
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
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 1, 2021 and September 30, 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.
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
‘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.’
‘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, re-configurations, 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 will be announced on Monday October 17 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 14. Chaired by broadcaster and journalist Bidisha, the six authors will each deliver a reading from their shortlisted book.
The following day, on Saturday October 15, 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.
The 2021 Booker Prize for Fiction was won by Damon Galgut with The Promise. In the two weeks after it won the 2021 Booker Prize The Promise sold 1,925% more copies in the UK than it had in the previous two weeks. According to The Bookseller, in the 12 weeks after his win, Galgut sold more copies of his books that he had in the previous 17 years since first being published in the UK. Rights to The Promise have been sold in 35 territories.
The first public event with the Booker Prize 2022 winner takes place on Thursday October 20 at Southbank Centre’s Queen Elizabeth Hall as part of London Literature Festival 2022, alongside Galgut, who will hand over the baton. The 2022 winner and Galgut are in conversation with novelist and former lawyer Sara Collins.
First awarded in 1969, The Booker Prize is recognised as the leading prize for literary fiction written in English. The list of former winners features many of the literary giants of the last five decades: from Iris Murdoch to Salman Rushdie, V.S. Naipaul to Hilary Mantel.
The Booker Prize is supported by Crankstart, a charitable foundation.