Join Adjoa Andoh, Aisling Bea, Jessica Brown Findlay, Toby Stephens, Michelle de Swarte and Osy Ikhile as they read from our six nominated books in these extraordinary films

We asked Sharon Horgan’s production company Mermade to produce a series of short films featuring six of the UK and Ireland’s best known actors reading extracts from the books on the International Booker Prize 2023 shortlist. The films, which will be shown at the winner ceremony, are directed by Hannah Berry George.

Publication date and time: Published

Watch Aisling Bea read from Whale by Cheon Myeong-kwan, translated by Chi-Young Kim

The story so far: Set in a remote village in South Korea, Whale follows the lives of three linked characters: Geumbok, an extremely ambitious woman who has been chasing an indescribable thrill ever since she first saw a whale crest in the ocean; her mute daughter, Chunhui, who communicates with elephants; and a one-eyed woman who controls honeybees with a whistle.

Aisling Bea is an award-winning stand-up comedian, writer and actor, best known for her Channel 4 comedy drama series This Way Up, and for her appearances in Living With Yourself (Netflix), Quiz (ITV), Hard Sun (BBC), The Fall (BBC) and Taskmaster (Channel 4).

Watch Osy Ikhile reads from Standing Heavy by GauZ', translated by Frank Wynne

The story so far: Amidst the political bickering of the inhabitants of the Residence for Students from Côte d’Ivoire and the ever-changing landscape of French immigration policy, two generations of Ivoirians attempt to make their way as undocumented workers, taking shifts as security guards at a flour mill.

Osy Ikhile is a television, film and stage actor, who is currently starring in the hit Amazon Prime spy thriller Citadel. He was previously seen in Netflix’s Black Mirror, Sky Arts’ Urban Myths and the SyFy series Childhood’s End.

Watch Adjoa Andoh read from The Gospel According to the New World by Maryse Condé, translated by Richard Philcox

The story so far: Baby Pascal is strikingly beautiful, brown in complexion, with grey-green eyes like the sea. But where does he come from? Is he really the child of God? So goes the rumour, and many signs throughout his life will cause this theory to gain ground. From journey to journey and from one community to another, Pascal sets off in search of his origins, trying to understand the meaning of his mission.

Adjoa Andoh, a judge for the Booker Prize 2023, won global acclaim as Lady Danbury in the Netflix smash Bridgerton, a role that saw her nominated for Outstanding Supporting Actress at the 2021 NAACP Image Awards. Her other TV credits include Silent Witness and The Witcher, while her many stage appearances include playing Condoleezza Rice in Stuff Happens and Serafina Pekkala in His Dark Materials. She is currently directing and starring in a new production of Shakespeare’s Richard lll at Liverpool Playhouse. 

Watch Jessica Brown Findlay read from Still Born by Guadalupe Nettel, translated by Rosalind Harvey

The story so far: Alina and Laura are independent and career-driven women in their mid-thirties, neither of whom have built their future around the prospect of a family. Alina becomes pregnant and when complications arise in her pregnancy, both women are forced to reckon with the complexity of their emotions, in Nettel’s sensitive and surgically precise exploration of maternal ambivalence.

Jessica Brown Findlay was most recently seen leading both feel-good hit The Flatshare (Paramount+) and the film adaptation of Jo Nesbo’s The Hanging Sun (Sky Cinema). She played Ophelia to Andrew Scott’s Hamlet in Robert Icke’s Olivier-nominated London production, and played Lady Sybil Crawley in ITV’s Downton Abbey

Watch Michelle de Swarte read from Boulder by Eva Baltasar, translated by Julia Sanches

The story so far: When Samsa and ‘Boulder’ decide to move to Reykjavik, Samsa announces that she wants to have a child. She is 40 and can’t bear to let the opportunity pass her by. Boulder is less enthused but doesn’t know how to say no – and so finds herself dragged along on a journey that feels as thankless as it is alien. With motherhood changing Samsa into a stranger, Boulder must decide where her priorities lie, and whether her yearning for freedom will trump her yearning for love.

Michelle de Swarte is an actor, comedian and former model, who starred as a series regular in Katherine Ryan’s Netflix series The Duchess, played the lead role in HBO/Sky series The Baby and recently featured in the BBC’s Live at the Apollo.

Watch Toby Stephens read from Time Shelter by Georgi Gospodinov, translated by Angela Rodel

The story so far: An unnamed narrator is tasked with collecting the flotsam and jetsam of the past, from 1960s furniture and 1940s shirt buttons to scents, and even afternoon light. But as the rooms they are furnishing become more convincing, an increasing number of healthy people seek out the clinic as a ‘time shelter’, hoping to escape the horrors of modern life – a development that results in an unexpected conundrum when the past begins to invade the present.

Toby Stephens is one of the UK’s best-known television, film and stage actors, whose extensive career has seen him play the Greek god Poseidon, Jane Eyre’s Mr Rochester, Tony Blair, Lord Snowdon, Kim Philby, and James Bond villain Gustav Graves in Die Another Day. In recent years he has starred in the TV series Black Sails (Starz), Alex Rider (Amazon Prime) and Lost in Space (Netflix).