The Booker Prize 2022 shortlist announced - shows geographical breadth and reimagines real events

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. 
 

Publication date:

About this year's shortlist

  • The chosen six books are ‘set in different places at different times [and] are all about events that in some measure happen everywhere, and concern us all’, according to Chair of judges Neil MacGregor
  • The six shortlisted authors represent five different nationalities and four continents, with an equal split of men and women on the list
  • Zimbabwean author NoViolet Bulawayo makes her second shortlist appearance with Glory, following We Need New Names in 2013
  • The majority of the shortlist is inspired by real events, from the Sri Lankan civil war and the fall of Mugabe to the Magdalene laundries scandal and the murder of Emmett Till
  • The list features the oldest author ever to be shortlisted: octogenarian Alan Garner with Treacle Walker; he will celebrate his 88th birthday on the night of the winner ceremony 
  • Half of the list is published by independent publishers, including first time appearances from Influx Press and Sort of Books 
  • At 116 pages, Claire Keegan’s Small Things Like These is the shortest book by page numbers to be recognised in the prize’s history – the shortest to win was Offshore by Penelope Fitzgerald (1979) at 132 pages. Although Treacle Walker is shorter by word count 
2022 Booker Prize shortlisted novels

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

Choosing the Booker Prize 2022 shortlist

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.

Booker Prize 2022 judges with the six shortlisted novels

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 full Booker Prize 2022 shortlist

2022 Booker Prize shortlisted novels

Browse the shortlist

Glory by NoViolet Bulawayo
The Trees by Percival Everett
Treacle Walker by Alan Garner
Small Things Like These by Claire Keegan
Oh William! by Elizabeth Strout

Neil MacGregor, Chair of the 2022 judges, says:

‘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.’   

Neil MacGregor, Chair of the Judges on the night of the Booker Prize 2022 shortlist announcement

Gaby Wood, Director of the Booker Prize Foundation, adds:

‘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.’ 

Gaby Wood, Director of the Booker Prize Foundation at The Booker Prize 2022 shortlist announcement at the Serpentine Pavilion

The 2022 winner announcement, shortlist events and winner event

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.

Damon Galgut on stage at the 2021 Booker Prize Awards Ceremony

Information about the 2022 shortlisted authors

  • NoViolet Bulawayo is shortlisted for her second novel. Her debut, We Need New Names, was shortlisted for the 2013 Man Booker Prize, the Guardian First Book Award and the Barnes & Noble Discover Award, and won a Betty Trask Award, Hemingway Foundation/PEN Award, Hurston-Wright Legacy Award, the Etisalat Prize and the Los Angeles Times Book Prize for First Fiction. She has also won the Caine Prize for African Writing and been named as one of the National Book Award’s ‘5 Under 35’.
  • Bulawayo grew up in Zimbabwe. When she was 18, she moved to Kalamazoo, Michigan. She earned her MFA at Cornell University, and was a Stegner Fellow at Stanford University, where she taught fiction.
  • She currently writes full-time, from wherever she finds herself. Bulawayo has said that writing Glory as an allegory seen through the eyes of animals gave her ‘the distance from a public drama that was often unfolding and changing shape as I was writing it’. She highlights folklore as a key influence, ‘thanks to a childhood of constant exposure to my grandmother’s fantastic animal stories that were generally meant to educate and entertain us way before books.’
  • Read her Booker Prize interview here.
NoViolet Bulawayo
  • Percival Everett is the author of over 30 books since his debut, Suder was released in 1983. His modern classics include I Am Not Sidney Poitier, So Much Blue, Erasure, and Glyph. Everett was a Pulitzer Prize finalist in 2020 with his novel Telephone. He received the Ivan Sandrof Lifetime Achievement Award at the National Book Critics Circle Awards 2022.
  • Everett has said The Trees took just over a year to write, but in a way it took his ‘63 years of being an American’ to create the novel. He believes that reading is one of the most subversive acts we can perform, commenting that ‘there’s a reason that oppressive regimes often resort to burning books. No one can control what minds do when reading; it is entirely private.’
  • Read his Booker Prize interview here.
Percival Everett
  • Alan Garner was born in Cheshire in 1934 and grew up in Alderley Edge. In 2001, he was awarded an OBE for his services to literature. The achievements of Garner’s long and distinguished career have been recognised with numerous awards and honours. In 1968, he won the Guardian Award and the Carnegie Medal for The Owl Service (1967) - the first author to win both awards for the same book.
  • He won the Phoenix Award in 1996 for The Stone Book Quartet (1976-1978), and his Elidor was a 1965 runner-up for the Carnegie medal. Garner was also awarded the Lewis Carroll Shelf Award in 1970 for The Weirdstone of Brisingamen, First Prize at the Chicago International Film Festival for his film Images, which he wrote and presented, and the Karl Edward Wagner Award (for lifetime achievement) at the 2003 British Fantasy Awards.
  • Garner says the process of writing Treacle Walker, from initial idea to final book, took almost exactly 8 years. On being the oldest author to ever be recognised by the prize, he comments that ‘age, in itself, is irrelevant. However, as with all skills, an apprenticeship has to be served, through practice and experience.’
  • Read his Booker Prize interview here.
Alan Garner
  • Shehan Karunatilaka is considered one of Sri Lanka’s foremost authors. In addition to his novels he has written rock songs, screenplays and travel stories.
  • Karunatilaka emerged on the world literary stage in 2011, when he won the Commonwealth Prize, the DSL and Gratiaen Prize for his debut novel, Chinaman. His songs, scripts and stories have been published in Rolling Stone, GQ and National Geographic.
  • Born in Galle, Sri Lanka, Karunatilaka grew up in Colombo, studied in New Zealand and has lived and worked in London, Amsterdam and Singapore. He currently lives in Sri Lanka. The Seven Moons of Maali Almeida is his long-awaited second novel.
  • Karunatilaka has said that he first started thinking about the novel in 2009 after the end of the Sri Lankan civil war, ‘when there was a raging debate over how many civilians died and whose fault it was.’ He started writing the novel in 2014 settling on ‘a ghost story where the dead could offer their perspective’. Karunatilaka comments that Sri Lankan authors often ‘specialise in gallows humour’ and making jokes in the face of crises.
  • Read his Booker Prize interview here.
Shehan Karunatilaka
  • Claire Keegan is a novelist and short story writer, whose work has won numerous awards and been translated into 30 languages. Keegan was brought up on a farm in Ireland. At the age of 17, she travelled to New Orleans, where she studied English and Political Science at Loyola University. She returned to Ireland in 1992, and her highly acclaimed first volume of short stories - Antarctica - was published in 1999. Her stories are translated into 30 languages and have won numerous accolades. Antarctica won the Rooney Prize for Irish Literature. Walk the Blue Fields won the Edge Hill Prize, awarded to the finest collection of stories published in the British Isles. Foster won the Davy Byrnes Award and was last year chosen by The Times as one of the top 50 works of fiction to be published in the 21st century.
  • Small Things Like These was shortlisted for the 2022 Rathbones Folio Prize. It won the Kerry Group Irish Novel of the Year Award and the Orwell Prize for Political Fiction.
  • Keegan has said she wrote around 50 drafts of the novel, with the earliest versions being the hardest to write as ‘all good stories are told with varying degrees of reluctance.’ On writing the shortest book to ever be recognised by the prize, she comments that ‘Furlong, my central character, isn’t someone who says much… A longer novel would not have suited his personality.’
  • Read her Booker Prize interview here.
Claire Keegan
  • Elizabeth Strout had a brief career in the law before becoming a writer. She didn’t tell people about her ambition to write, ‘because they look at you with such looks of pity. I just couldn’t stand that.’
  • Strout has subsequently become a habitué of the bestseller lists: her third novel alone, Olive Kitteridge, has sold more than one million copies, grossed over $25 million and been made into an Emmy-winning television mini-series.
  • Strout ascribes her career to the fact that she was ‘a very bad lawyer’ (she only practiced for six months) and that ‘my ears are always open… And people will tell you things. Boy, they really will.’ This is what gives the relationships in her books the tang of lived experience.
  • Oh William! sees Strout re-visiting the iconic character of Lucy Barton. She hopes that ‘many readers have taken Lucy into their hearts because she is honest in what she presents, and also her voice is an intimate one, and yet leaves the reader enough space to enter the book on their own terms.’
  • Read her Booker Prize interview here
Elizabeth Strout

Judges’ comments on the 2022 shortlisted books

  • Glory, NoViolet Bulawayo
    ‘Glory is a magical crossing of the African continent in its political excesses and its wacky characters. Here the fable is never far from the reality.’
  • The Trees, Percival Everett
    ‘Part southern noir, part something else entirely, The Trees is a dance of death with jokes - horrifying and howlingly funny - that asks questions about history and justice and allows not a single easy answer.’
  • Treacle Walker, Alan Garner
    ‘It’s a mysterious, beautifully written and affecting glimpse into the deep work of being human. Alan Garner’s stories always draw you relentlessly into their echoing metaphysical and emotional space: this one made some of us cry.’
  • The Seven Moons of Maali Almeida, Shehan Karunatilaka
    ‘Colombo, 1990: Maali Almeida is dead, and he’s as confused about how and why as you are. A Sri Lankan whodunnit and a race against time, Seven Moons is full of ghosts, gags and a deep humanity.’
  • Small Things Like These, Claire Keegan
    ‘Keegan is measured and merciless as she dissects the silent acquiescence of a 1980s Irish town in the Church’s cruel treatment of unmarried mothers— and the cost of one man’s moral courage.’
  • Oh William!, Elizabeth Strout
    Oh William! is one of those quietly radiant books that finds the deepest mysteries in the simplest things. Strout’s gentle reflections on marriage, family, love and loneliness are utterly piercing.’
The Booker Prize 2022 judges at the shortlist announcement held at the Serpentine Pavilion

The leading prize for quality fiction in English

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. 
 

Salman Rushdie in conversation at the 1981 Booker Prize ceremony