Book Club / Culture

Read your way through the 2022 Booker Prize shortlist with this guide

booker prize 2022 shortlist

Look, we know your "to read" stacks are already piled high, but what harm will a further few titles do? The Booker Prize winner for 2022 was announced yesterday on October 17, Shehan Karunatilaka coming out on top for his sophomore novel The Seven Moons of Maali Almeida. While many of you have already added the book to your cart, we're guiding you through the shortlist of finalists for future reading inspiration (or in case you want to add them to your cart too).

For context, The Booker Prize is arguably the most prestigious award in the English-speaking world. Occurring annually, the prize recognises the best in fiction with the winner receiving £50,000 and each shortlisted author £2,000 along with global readership. To be considered, the work of fiction must be written in English and published in both the UK and Ireland.

Find a synopsis for each shortlisted book, below.


The Seven Moons of Maali Almeida, Shehan Karunatilaka


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Maali Almeida has woken up, in what appears to be a celestial visa office, dead. As for his body? It's slowly sinking in the Beira Lake. Someone has murdered Almeida and he has "seven moons" to unveil the killer. The problem? There are plenty of suspects who would want the war photographer, gambler and closeted gay man dead. Almeida must attempt to contact the people he loves and lead them to a cache of pictures capturing civil war atrocities that will rock Sri Lanka.

Upon the announcement that he had won, making him the second Sri Lankan author to do so, Karunatilaka addressed the audience in Tamil and Sinhalese, “I write these books for you… Let’s keep sharing these stories.”


Glory, NoViolet Bulawayo


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Taking inspiration from George Orwell's Animal Farm, Bulawayo assembles a cast of animals to portray the 2017 Zimbabwean coup and the absurdity of our current global politics. Set in the fictional town of Jidada, Glory brims with allegory to speak about genocide, corruption and exploitation. An urgent and sharply observant tale of the world around us, from the first Black African person to ever be shortlisted for the prize.


Small Things Like These, Claire Keegan


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At only 114 pages, Small Things Like These can be read in one or two sittings, perfect for the time poor among us. Dedicated to "the women and children who suffered time in Ireland's Magdalen laundries", asylums run by Roman Catholic nuns throughout the 20th century, the book opens with Bill Furlong as he makes a startling discovery and must choose between keeping the peace or ushering the secret into the light.


Treacle Walker, Alan Garner


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The title is the name of a man rather than a moniker for someone who attempts to wade through golden syrup. Set in Cheshire, Treacle Walker follows a young boy Joseph Coppock, who squints at the world with his lazy eye, collects bird eggs and amuses himself with marbles. One day Joseph stumbles across the title character, and the two exchange possessions from which their friendship blossoms. A marvellous fusion of folklore, magic and science from a lauded English novelist.


The Trees, Percival Everett


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A supremely timely novel. The Trees finds it starting point at the murder scene of 14-year-old Emmett Till in Money, Alabama. What begins as a political allegory swiftly descends into horror as detectives discover a series of brutal murders, all of which are linked by a second dead body with the same face at each scene. As the killings continue, the detectives seek answers from a local root doctor who has been documenting the phenomenon for years.


Oh William!, Elizabeth Strout

The third title in Elizabeth Strout's Lucy Barton series, it follows the protagonist during the second half of her life as a widow and mother to two, now adult, women. Lucy is in new territory, but when she encounters her first husband William by surprise, their paths weave together in ways unexpected. The best thing? The fourth book in the series was recently published, so you won't have to wait to continue the story.

Looking for more reading recommendations? Take this list of the books we're reading in October 2022.

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