A Spell of Good Things
by Ayọ̀bámi Adébáyọ̀
We’re offering you the chance to win one of five bundles made up of all 13 longlisted titles in contention for this year’s Booker Prize
This competition is now closed
To celebrate the announcement of the Booker Prize 2023 longlist, we are giving you the chance to win a set of all 13 titles that are in contention for this year’s prize.
The judges are looking for the best work of long-form fiction, selected from entries published in the UK and Ireland between October 1 2022 and September 30 2023. The longlist of 13 books – the ‘Booker Dozen’ – was announced on August 1, with the shortlist of six books to follow on September 21. The winning title will be announced at an event at Old Billingsgate, London, on November 26, 2023.
Chair of Judges Esi Edugyan said this year’s list ‘is defined by its freshness – by the irreverence of new voices, by the iconoclasm of established ones. All 13 novels cast new light on what it means to exist in our time, and they do so in original and thrilling ways.’
We have five sets of the longlisted books up for grabs. To be in with a chance of winning one set, simply enter your details below by 12:00 BST (UK time) on Thursday, August 24, 2023. This competition is open to readers anywhere in the world.
This competition is a free draw, with only one entry allowed per person, and we reserve the right to disqualify any entries where we suspect one person has used a number of different email addresses. Use or attempted use of any automated or other non-manual entry methods is prohibited.
The draw is governed by our general rules for competitions, available here, but the following specifics also apply (and take precedence should there be any contradiction or ambiguity):
A Spell of Good Things is an examination of class and desire in modern-day Nigeria. While Eniola’s poverty prevents him from getting the education he desperately wants, Wuraola finds that wealth is no barrier against life’s harsher realities. A powerful, staggering read.
A murder investigation leads a retired policeman to confront the loss and sorrow of his past. Barry brilliantly evokes the distorting effect of trauma on memory as we enter an easy companionship with his gentle, funny protagonist. Both the legacy of historic child abuse in Ireland and the enduring power of love are sensitively explored in this compassionate and quietly furious book.
Study for Obedience is an absurdist, darkly funny novel about the rise of xenophobia, as seen through the eyes of a stranger in an unnamed town – or is it? Bernstein’s urgent, crystalline prose upsets all our expectations, and what transpires is a meditation on survival itself.
An astonishingly assured debut novel from Jonathan Escoffery, lauded by the panel for its clarity, variety and fizzing prose. Jamaican husband and wife Topper and Santa flee from the troubles of their 1970s Caribbean home to make a new life in Miami with their sons Delano and Trelawney. In the remorseless, laugh-out-loud code switching of the recently arrived, they attempt to survive America and each other, as the reader is confronted with the immigrants’ eternal questions: who am I now and where do I belong?
The interweaving stories of Jamie, a teenage boy trying to make sense of the world, and Tess, a teacher at his school, make up this humorous and insightful novel about family and the need for connection. Feeney has written an absorbing coming-of-age story which also explores the restrictions of class and education in a small community. A complex and genuinely moving novel.
Based on a relatively unknown true story, Paul Harding’s heartbreakingly beautiful paean to Apple Island, off the coast of Maine, transports us to the unique tiny community scrabbling a living there – descended from trafficked Africans, immigrant Irish and indigenous Penobscot. The arrival of a well-intentioned though racist preacher brings with it the unwelcome attention of 19th century America, with inevitably disastrous results. The judges were moved by the delicate symphony of language, land and narrative that Harding brings to bear on the story of the islanders.
Pearl, by Siân Hughes, an exceptional debut novel, is both a mystery story and a meditation on grief, abandonment and consolation, evoking the profundities of the haunting medieval poem, ‘Pearl’. The degree of difficulty in writing a book of this sort – at once quiet and hugely ambitious – is very high. It’s a book that will be passed from hand to hand for a long time to come.
Written from the perspective of an autistic mother, All the Little Bird-Hearts is a poetic debut which masterfully intertwines themes of familial love, friendship, class, prejudice and trauma with psychological acuity and wit.
Paul Lynch’s harrowing and dystopian Prophet Song vividly renders a mother’s determination to protect her family as Ireland’s liberal democracy slides inexorably and terrifyingly into totalitarianism. Readers will find it timely and unforgettable. It’s a remarkable accomplishment for a novelist to capture the social and political anxieties of our moment so compellingly.
In this strange and wonderful world, every outward journey – whether to space or the depths of the ocean – is an inward one, as Leigh seeks to move beyond her troubled childhood. In Ascension is a Solaris for the climate-change age.
Skilfully deploying the sport of squash as both context and metaphor, Western Lane is a deeply evocative debut about a family grappling with grief, conveyed through crystalline language which reverberates like the sound ‘of a ball hit clean and hard…with a close echo’.
Paul Murray’s saga, The Bee Sting, set in the Irish Midlands, brilliantly explores how our secrets and self-deceptions ultimately catch up with us. This family drama, told from multiple perspectives, is at once hilarious and heartbreaking, personal and epic. It’s an addictive read.
Drawing on the life and writing of Somerset Maugham, The House of Doors is a magisterial and haunting tale of forbidden love and loss in the shadow of revolution and empire. This is historical fiction at its finest.