Everything you need to know about the Booker Prize 2023 shortlist
As the Booker Prize 2023 shortlist is announced, we’ve pulled together the most interesting facts and trends that have emerged in this year’s selection
For the first time, the livestream of this year’s Booker Prize winner ceremony will be hosted by social media star Jack Edwards, ‘YouTube’s resident librarian’. Here, we ask him about his reading habits, and what we can expect from the Booker’s big night
What are you most looking forward to about hosting the official Booker Prize 2023 livestream, and what can people expect?
I’m most excited about getting to chat to our Booker Prize judges and shortlisted authors… in the flesh! I have so many questions after reading through the shortlist, and feel like the luckiest person in the world to have the opportunity to ask them!
The Booker Prize is the ultimate book recommendation. But in a world where thousands of individuals recommend books online, what’s special or unique about the Booker?
The Booker Prizes’ dedication to promoting thought-provoking literature from all around the world makes it such a special moment every year. I love exploring the craft of storytelling, and the Booker Prize has introduced me to stories from so many different parts of the world.
Tell us about your reading habits. What type of books are you usually drawn to? Any favourite genres?
When I’m in a bookshop I always find myself drawn to detailed character studies which put one or two people (or a particular community) under a microscope. Living in a big city I feel like I pass and encounter so many people every single day, and yet each of those individual people are so deeply complex, experiencing and perceiving the world in unique ways. In the books I read, I find it really fascinating to slow down and focus on just one person. I find that Irish storytellers always do this especially well!
I try to dip my toes into every genre, though, in order to discuss books from across the whole literary landscape on my channel!
What’s the one book you’ve recommended to people more than any other, and why?
This year my top recommendation has been Small Things Like These by Claire Keegan — a recommendation from last year’s Booker Prize! It may be ‘small’ as the title suggests, but it is MIGHTY! Claire Keegan writes with tenderness and empathy, drawing attention to a really important part of recent Irish history.
Were you a big reader as a child? Was there a book or author that made you fall in love with fiction?
I’m not being dramatic when I say that The Gruffalo changed my life.
How did you get started as a creator? Can you remember your first book-related post, and how long did it take before you realised how big an impact you were having?
I started my channel to make higher education more accessible while I was reading English Literature at Durham, sharing a real university experience from a real student’s perspective. Ironically, the one thing I never shared was the books I read, as I didn’t think anyone would care. Turns out I was pretty wrong about that and, after graduating, I started sharing reviews of the books I read during lockdown, finding a whole new audience of book lovers. I think my first book related post was ‘reading every book referenced in Normal People’ which is very meta — books mentioned in a book! It was really interesting to me to explore the books and poetry Sally Rooney references, and how it adds some extra texture to the scenes they’re featured in.
In terms of impact, I get a warm fuzzy feeling every time I see someone who watches my videos in a bookstore and they tell me they’re about to buy a book based on my recommendations. Knowing someone else now gets to experience that book is a great feeling!
What’s the best thing about your job? And what’s the thing that would surprise people about it the most?
I love the symbiotic relationship I have with my viewers — I recommend books to them and, in turn, they recommend books to me! I think it would surprise my viewers to know just how many books I read based on their comments!
What’s your number-one piece of advice for other book-obsessed creators who’d like to be as successful as you?
Get creative and think outside the box about what ‘book content’ can be. How can you link current cultural trends to the book world? How can you turn something bookish into a viral moment? How can you help more people connect with a great book?
As someone who reads fiction for a living, are you tempted to write your own novel? Is there one in the works?
I am bursting at the seams trying not to overshare details of the novel I’m working on because I’m absolutely infatuated by it. I’m writing about something that has fascinated me since I first studied it in the first year of my undergraduate degree. Watch this space!
Could you pick a favourite book from the Booker Library, the archive of 600+ books that have been longlisted or shortlisted for the Booker Prizes over the years?
The Promise by Damon Galgut, winner of the 2021 Booker Prize, is so brilliantly experimental and innovative, pushing the boundaries of what’s possible in fiction writing. The narrative perspective acts like a camera, shifting constantly.
Which book is your money on to win the Booker Prize this year?
You’ll have to tune in to the livestream on November 26th to find out…….