In this week’s podcast, our hosts will attempt to choose the best Booker shortlist in the prize’s 54-year history. But we’d like to know which year’s shortlist is your favourite, too

Publication date and time: Published

This Thursday, September 21, marks one of the biggest moments in the global literary calendar as our judges reveal the shortlist for the Booker Prize 2023. Together, they will choose the six books that they believe represent the very best in long-form fiction published in English in the UK and Ireland this year. 

Ahead of the announcement, we’ve been thinking: how will this year’s shortlist compare with those of previous years? Are some shortlists better than others, and how well have they stood the test of time? And what about the biggest question of all: which year provided the greatest shortlist ever?

Where better a place to thrash out the answer to this last question than The Booker Prize Podcast. In this week’s episode, to be aired on Friday, October 22, hosts Jo Hamya and James Walton are joined by a man who has read every book on every Booker shortlist, Bob Jackson. Jo, James and Bob will each make a case for their two favourite shortlists from the past 54 years. After debating the merits of their six combined choices – the shortlist of shortlists – the trio eventually selected their best shortlist ever, which will be revealed later this week. They also selected the best-ever decade for Booker shortlists.

But before we reveal their choices, we’d like to know what you think. Below, you’ll find a poll where we invite you to cast your vote for the best Booker Prize shortlist of all time. And should you need a refresher on the prize’s history, we’ve compiled a handy list of every shortlist, and its respective books, alongside. The winning fan-favourite shortlist will be revealed on our social channels next week. Happy voting!

Booker prize 2022 trophy

Poll: Vote for your favourite shortlist of all time

1970-79 shortlists

The Lost Man Booker Prize: Troubles by J.G FarrellThe Birds on the Trees by Nina BawdenThe Bay of Noon by Shirley HazzardFire From Heaven by Mary RenaultThe Driver’s Seat by Muriel SparkThe Vivisector by Patrick White

1970: The Elected Member by Bernice RubensJohn Brown’s Body by A. L. BarkerEva Trout by Elizabeth BowenBruno’s Dream by Iris MurdochMrs Eckdorf in O’Neill’s Hotel by William TrevorThe Conjunction by Terence Wheeler

1971: In a Free State by V. S. NaipaulThe Big Chapel by Thomas KilroyBriefing for a Descent into Hell by Doris LessingSt. Urbain’s Horseman by Mordecai RichlerGoshawk Squadron by Derek RobinsonMrs. Palfrey at the Claremont by Elizabeth Taylor

1972: G. by John BergerThe Bird of Night by Susan HillThe Chant of Jimmie Blacksmith by Thomas KeneallyPasmore by David Storey

1973: The Siege of Krishnapur by J. G. FarrellThe Dressmaker by Beryl BainbridgeA Green Equinox by Elizabeth MavorThe Black Prince by Iris Murdoch

1974: The Conservationist by Nadine GordimerHoliday by Stanley MiddletonEnding Up by Kingsley AmisThe Bottle Factory Outing by Beryl BainbridgeIn Their Wisdom by C. P. Snow

1975: Heat and Dust by Ruth Prawer JhabvalaGossip from the Forest by Thomas Keneally

1976: Saville by David StoreyAn Instant in the Wind by André BrinkRising by R. C. HutchinsonThe Doctor’s Wife by Brian MooreKing Fisher Lives by Julian RathboneThe Children of Dynmouth by William Trevor

1977: Staying On by Paul ScottPeter Smart’s Confessions by Paul BaileyGreat Granny Webster by Caroline BlackwoodShadows on our Skin by Jennifer JohnstonThe Road to Lichfield by Penelope LivelyQuartet in Autumn by Barbara Pym

1978: The Sea, the Sea by Iris MurdochJake’s Thing by Kingsley AmisRumours of Rain by André BrinkThe Bookshop by Penelope FitzgeraldGod on the Rocks by Jane GardamA Five-Year Sentence by Bernice Rubens

1979: Offshore by Penelope FitzgeraldConfederates by Thomas KeneallyA Bend in the River by V. S. NaipaulJoseph by Julian RathbonePraxis by Fay Weldon


1980-89 shortlists

1980: Rites of Passage by William GoldingEarthly Powers by Anthony BurgesClear Light of Day by Anita DesaiThe Beggar Maid by Alice MunroNo Country for Young Men by Julia O’FaolainPascali’s Island by Barry UnsworthA Month in the Country by J. L. Carr

1981: Midnight’s Children by Salman RushdieGood Behaviour by Molly KeaneThe Sirian Experiments by Doris LessingThe Comfort of Strangers by Ian McEwanRhine Journey by Ann SchleeLoitering with Intent by Muriel SparkThe White Hotel by D. M. Thomas

1982: Schindler’s Ark by Thomas KeneallySilence Among the Weapons by John ArdenAn Ice-Cream War by William BoydConstance or Solitary Practices by Lawrence DurrellThe 27th Kingdom by Alice Thomas EllisSour Sweet by Timothy Mo

1983: Life and Times of Michael K by J. M. CoetzeeRates of Exchange by Malcolm BradburyFlying to Nowhere by John FullerThe Illusionist by Anita MasonShame by Salman RushdieWaterland by Graham Swift

1984: Hotel du Lac by Anita BrooknerEmpire of the Sun by J. G. BallardFlaubert’s Parrot by Julian BarnesIn Custody by Anita DesaiAccording to Mark by Penelope LivelySmall World by David Lodge

1985: The Bone People by Keri HulmeIllywhacker by Peter CareyThe Battle of Pollocks CrossingThe Good Terrorist by Doris LessingLast Letters from Hav by Jan MorrisThe Good Apprentice by Iris Murdoch

1986: The Old Devils by Kingsley AmisThe Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret AtwoodGabriel’s Lament by Paul BaileyWhat’s Bred in the Bone by Robertson DaviesAn Artist of the Floating World by Kazuo IshiguroAn Insular Possession by Timothy Mo

1987: Moon Tiger by Penelope LivelyAnthills of the Savannah by Chinua AchebeChatterton by Peter AckroydCircles of Deceit by Nina BawdenThe Colour of Blood by Brian MooreThe Book and the Brotherhood

1988: Oscar and Lucinda by Peter Care, Utz by Bruce ChatwinThe Beginning of Spring by Penelope FitzgeraldNice Work by David LodgeThe Satanic Verses by Salman RushdieThe Lost Father by Marina Warner

1989: The Remains of the Day by Kazuo IshiguroCat’s Eye by Margaret AtwoodThe Book of Evidence by John BanvilleJigsaw by Sybille BedfordA Disaffection by James KelmanRestoration by Rose Tremain

Midnight's Children

1990-99 shortlists

1990: Possession by A. S. ByattAn Awfully Big Adventure by Beryl BainbridgeThe Gate of Angels by Penelope FitzgeraldAmongst Women by John McGahernLies of Silence by Brian MooreSolomon Gursky Was Here by Mordecai Richler

1991: The Famished Road by Ben OkriTime’s Arrow by Martin AmisThe Van by Roddy DoyleSuch a Long Journey by Rohinton MistryThe Redundancy of Courage by Timothy MoReading Turgenev by William Trevor 

1992: The English Patient by Michael OndaatjeSacred Hunger by Barry UnsworthSerenity House by Christopher HopeThe Butcher Boy by Patrick McCabeBlack Dogs by Ian McEwanDaughters of the House by Michèle Roberts

1993: Paddy Clarke Ha Ha Ha by Roddy DoyleUnder the Frog by Tibor FischerScar Tissue by Michael IgnatieffRemembering Babylon by David MaloufCrossing the River by Caryl PhillipsThe Stone Diaries by Carol Shields

1994: How late it was, how late by James KelmanReef by Romesh GunesekeraParadise by Abdulrazak GurnahThe Folding Star by Alan HollinghurstBeside the Ocean of Time by George Mackay BrownKnowledge of Angels by Jill Paton Walsh

1995: The Ghost Road by Pat BarkerIn Every Face I Meet by Justin CartwrightThe Moor’s Last Sigh by Salman RushdieMorality Play by Barry UnsworthThe Riders by Tim Winton

1996: Last Orders by Graham SwiftAlias Grace by Margaret AtwoodEvery Man for Himself by Beryl BainbridgeReading in the Dark by Seamus DeaneThe Orchard on Fire by Shena MackayA Fine Balance by Rohinton Mistry

1997: The God of Small Things by Arundhati RoyQuarantine by Jim CraceThe Underground Man by Mick JacksonGrace Notes by Bernard MacLavertyEuropa by Tim ParksThe Essence of the Thing by Madeleine St John

1998: Amsterdam by Ian McEwanMaster Georgie by Beryl BainbridgeEngland, England by Julian BarnesThe Industry of Souls by Martin BoothBreakfast on Pluto by Patrick McCabeThe Restraint of Beasts by Magnus Mills

1999: Disgrace by J. M. CoetzeeFasting, Feasting by Anita DesaiHeadlong by Michael FraynOur Fathers by Andrew O’HaganThe Map of Love by Ahdaf SoueifThe Blackwater Lightship by Colm Tóibín

The Remains of the Day

2000-09 shortlists

2000: The Blind Assassin by Margaret AtwoodThe Hiding Place by Trezza AzzopardiThe Keepers of Truth by Michael CollinsWhen We Were Orphans by Kazuo IshiguroEnglish Passengers by Matthew KnealeThe Deposition of Father McGreevy by Brian O’Doherty

2001: True History of the Kelly Gang by Peter CareyAtonement by Ian McEwanOxygen by Andrew Millernumber9dream by David MitchellThe Dark Room by Rachel SeiffertHotel World by Ali Smith

2002: Life of Pi by Yann MartelFamily Matters by Rohinton MistryUnless by Carol ShieldsThe Story of Lucy Gault by William TrevorFingersmith by Sarah WatersDirt Music by Tim Winton

2003: Vernon God Little by DBC PierreBrick Lane by Monica AliOryx and Crake by Margaret AtwoodThe Good Doctor by Damon GalgutNotes on a Scandal by Zoë HellerAstonishing Splashes of Colour by Clare Morrall

2004: The Line of Beauty by Alan HollinghurstBitter Fruit by Achmat DangorThe Electric Michaelangelo by Sarah HallCloud Atlas by David MitchellThe Master by Colm TóibínI’ll Go to Bed at Noon by Gerard Woodward

2005: The Sea by John BanvilleArthur & George by Julian BarnesA Long Long Way by Sebastian BarryNever Let Me Go by Kazuo IshiguroThe Accidental by Ali SmithOn Beauty by Zadie Smith

2006: The Inheritance of Loss by Kiran DesaiThe Secret River by Kate GrenvilleCarry Me Down by M. J. HylandIn the Country of Men by Hisham MatarMother’s Milk by Edward St AubynThe Night Watch by Sarah Waters

2007: The Gathering by Anne EnrightDarkmans by Nicola BarkerThe Reluctant Fundamentalist by Mohsin HamidMister Pip by Lloyd JonesOn Chesil Beach by Ian McEwanAnimal’s People by Indra Sinha

2008: The White Tiger by Aravind AdigaThe Secret Scripture by Sebastian BarrySea of Poppies by Amitav GhoshThe Clothes on Their Backs by Linda GrantThe Northern Clemency by Philip HensherA Fraction of the Whole by Steve Toltz

2009: Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel (4th Estate), The Children’s Book by A. S. ByattSummertime by J. M. CoetzeeThe Quickening Maze by Adam FouldsThe Glass Room by Simon MawerThe Little Stranger by Sarah Waters

Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel

2010-19 shortlists

2010: The Finkler Question by Howard JacobsonParrot and Olivier in Americar by Peter Carey, Room by Emma DonoghueIn a Strange Room by Damon GalgutThe Long Song by Andrea LevyC by Tom McCarthy

2011: The Sense of an Ending by Julian BarnesJamrach’s Menagerie by Carol BirchThe Sisters Brothers by Patrick deWittHalf Blood Blues by Esi EdugyanPigeon English by Stephen KelmanSnowdrops by A.D, Miller

2012: Bring Up the Bodies by Hilary MantelSwimming Home by Deborah LevyThe Lighthouse by Alison MooreUmbrella by Will SelfThe Garden of Evening Mists by Tan Twan EngNarcopolis by Jeet Thayil

2013:The Luminaries by Eleanor CattonWe Need New Names by NoViolet BulawayoHarvest by Jim CraceThe Lowland by Jhumpa LahiriA Tale for the Time Being by Ruth OzekiThe Testament of Mary by Colm Tóibín

2014: The Narrow Road to the Deep North by Richard FlanaganTo Rise Again at a Decent Hour by Joshua FerrisWe Are All Completely Beside Ourselves by Karen Joy FowlerJ  by Howard JacobsonThe Lives of Others by Neel MukherjeeHow to Be Both by Ali Smith

2015: A Brief History of Seven Killings by Marlon JamesSatin Island by Tom McCarthyThe Fishermen by Chigozie ObiomaThe Year of the Runaways by Sunjeev SahotaA Spool of Blue Thread  by Anne TylerA Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara

2016: The Sellout by Paul BeattyHot Milk by Deborah LevyHis Bloody Project by Graeme Macrae BurnetEileen by Ottessa MoshfeghAll That Man Is by David SzalayDo Not Say We Have Nothing by Madeleine Thien

2017: Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders4 3 2 1 by Paul AusterHistory of Wolves by Emily FridlundExit West  by Mohsin HamidElmet by Fiona MozleyAutumn by Ali Smith

2018: Milkman by Anna BurnsWashington Black by Esi EdugyanEverything Under by Daisy JohnsonThe Mars Room by Rachel KushnerThe Overstory by Richard PowersThe Long Take by Robin Robertson

2019: Girl, Woman, Other by Bernardine EvaristoThe Testaments by Margaret AtwoodDucks, Newburyport by Lucy EllmannAn Orchestra of Minorities by Chigozie ObiomaQuichotte by Salman Rushdie10 Minutes 38 Seconds in This Strange World by Elif Shafak

The Luminaries by Eleanor Catton, winner of the Man Booker Prize 2013,