At the Booker Prize 2022 ceremony, Dua Lipa, the award-winning singer-songwriter, delivered a keynote speech about her lifelong love of reading - and how good writing has the power to make people feel seen and heard
Your Majesty, Ladies and Gentlemen,
Firstly, a heartfelt thank you to the Booker Prize Foundation for inviting me here tonight. It’s such an honour to be amongst some of the world’s greatest literary minds to talk about one of the most profound joys in the world, the simple pleasure of reading a book.
Reading is a passion that has taken many forms for me. Like countless other London school children, my early obsessions included Roald Dahl and Malorie Blackman, both of whom gave me little pearls of wisdom that still guide me today.
When I was 11, my family decided to return to Kosovo. Reading books such as Ismail Kadare’s Keshtjella, or The Castle, tested my language skills while also helping me connect with my family’s heritage and identity as Kosovan Albanians.
Through Kadare, I learnt about the Albanian spirit of resistance, that same stubborn determination that keeps Kosovans fighting for international recognition of our independence today. I often wonder if authors realise just how many gifts they give us.
Today, touring commitments take me all over the globe and life is often hectic. Sometimes, just to survive, I need to adopt a tough exterior. And at these times, it is books that soften me.
Earlier this year I launched a podcast, which I love because it gives me the opportunity to speak one-to-one with some of my favourite authors. They make incredible guests because they are so in tune with human emotion - it’s honestly better than any therapy session I’ve ever been to!
Talking to Hanya Yanagihara about A Little Life is a privilege that still blows my mind – I was so immersed in that story, I honestly felt like I lived on Lispenard Street. She told me that she still thinks about Jude every day of her life. I do too!
Good writing has the power to make people feel seen and heard, to tell stories that the world has ignored. We all just want to love and be loved and find our place in the world, and authors really help us to do that.
So to each of tonight’s shortlisted authors, whether your book was something you wrote solely for yourself, to change the world, or simply because you felt you had to, thank you for allowing us into the worlds you create. It really does mean a lot to us readers.