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Cover Design Highlights: Booker Long List 2022

By Amy Evans, Juliette Tulloch and Lucy Roberts


Now that the Booker Prize Longlist 2022 has been released, the covers team wanted to pick out some of their favourite designs and artists from the list.


Audrey Magee’s The Colony, described as a “lyrical and brooding fable” by this year's judges, follows two strangers who travel to a small island off the west coast of Ireland. The Englishman, an artist, and the Frenchman, a frequent visitor and linguist, will clash over their personal values. With violence spreading across nearby Ireland, so too will the island explore themes of independence and desire. Designed by Jack Smythe for Faber, the wide typography immediately hints that isolation and danger are interwoven throughout the plot line. The ghostly atmosphere of the lone boat surrounded by choppy waves, whilst the monochrome island looms over them, suggests that these two outsiders will infiltrate the island's society full of naivety. The decision to use a short yet tense snippet of dialogue, instead of a blurb, insinuates that this will be a tense read.


Case Study by Graeme Macrae Burnet features an intriguing cover design that incorporates multimedia and embraces the novel's main theme of psychoanalysis. Burnet creates a world in which one woman becomes obsessed with a clinical psychologist, who she believes is responsible for driving her sister to commit suicide. She undertakes a false identity to infiltrate his work pace as a patient and fifty years later the notes of her findings are discovered. Daniel Benneworth-Gray designed the cover, drawing inspiration from the 1960s Pelican colour palette, as well as making references to metafiction and trauma. The ripped notebook dividing the page alludes to disorder, whilst the bold face hiding behind the circular illusion illustrates that these characters will be darkly fragile and troubled.


After Sappho by Selby Wynn Schwartz follows the lives of a group of bright and unstoppable women – from early sapphists to writers of the past. Described as a “poetic patchwork” by the 2022 judges, Schwartz weaves together a lesbian family, told through a multitude of vignettes that celebrate their past while shining hope upon our future. Although the cover is not covered in illustration nor does it feature any quotations, the wide expanse of blue space allows the book to speak for itself. Leaving the tales to follow without illustration enables the reader to picture the women and their lives for themselves, without influence from the front cover. The Mediterranean blue of the front cover harks back to Sappho herself, writing poetry on the Greek island of Lesbos surrounded by the stretching blue seas. The bold choice to omit any quotations from the author and critics alike proves that this book needs no introduction.


Shehan Karunatilaka’s The Seven Moons of Maali Almeida presents the satirical tale of Maali’s murder in Colombo in 1990. Maali is faced with a time limit of seven moons to communicate with his loved ones, leading them to a cache of photos that could change Sri Lanka forever. The cover design features a bright kaleidoscope of colours, forming the shape of a face behind the title. While at first glance the face seems happy, its smile is almost too wide and it instead adopts a menacing grin foreshadowing the chaos of the book. The teeth slightly overlap the title of the book, as if in threat to Maali himself.


Maps of Our Spectacular Bodies follows the story of Lia, who has been diagnosed with cancer, as she and her family deal with the terminal diagnosis. The book blends serious and emotional moments with dark humour and uses a mix of poetry and prose. This cover design features bright colours like red and green in the illustration of a body, against a blue background with bold white text. This makes the cover really eye-catching and striking. The illustration of the body is interesting because we don’t see the person’s face, which obscures their identity.


Set in Mississippi, Percival Everett’s novel, The Trees, follows a series of murders, as the detectives of the Mississippi Bureau of Investigation attempt to solve the mystery behind them. The book explores themes of racism and police violence. The cover is really eye-catching, without giving too much away about the actual subject matter of the book. It looks like a collage as there are multiple 'layers' to the design. What stuck out the most to me about the design is how the image of the cherries and the title itself are split across the image of the photograph and the paper behind it, which makes it a really unique cover. The bright colour of the red cherries also draws the eye. While at first glance the cover doesn’t obviously link to the subject matter, the paper in the background resembles the kinds of notepaper police might use to record crimes or field notes.

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