The Booker Prize 2022 Shortlist Announced
By Paridhi Badgotri, Gabriella Sotiriou and Emma Baigey
The long-awaited Booker Prize 2022 Shortlist has been announced, marking a few firsts for the award since its establishment in 1968. Amongst the six authors is the oldest ever to be nominated, Alan Garner, who turns eighty-eight on the day the prize will be awarded. He is also the only British writer on this year’s list, with the nominees representing five different nationalities and four continents. Most of these international stories are based on real events, including Emmett Till’s murder and the Civil War in Sri Lanka.
Commentators have also highlighted the brevity of the shortlisted books, most notably Small Things Like These by Claire Keegan, which, at 116 pages, is the shortest book to ever be nominated. Independent publishers have contributed half of the six books, including first-timers Influx Press with Percival Everett’s Trees and Sort of Books with Shehan Karunatilaka’s The Seven Moon of Maali Almeida.
Booker Prize judge Shahidha Bari has kept readers on the edge of their seats, writing in the Guardian that “every book on the 2022 shortlist is a serious contender for the prize.” The winner will be announced at the Roundhouse in London on 17 October.
Glory by NoViolet Bulawayo
Glory is the second novel by NoViolet Bulawayo. It explores the atrocities of colonisation through the lens of animals. It delves into the crimes committed by humans against animals – followed by a bloody uprising of liberation by the animals after which the joyous country of animals turns into a game of power exchanges. One might compare it to Orwell’s Animal Farm but the book is rooted in Zimbabwean folk tales, which sets it apart from Orwell’s book. It is a satire run by women rather than pushing them to the margins.
The Seven Moons of Maali Almeida by Shehan Karunatilaka
Karunatilaka builds a story that slides into the afterlife where the ghosts of dead humans and animals are in conversation with Maali Almeida. Set amidst the 1990 Civil War in Colombo, the book also acts as a satire to the murderous chaos of the country during the war. The protagonist, Maali Almeida, takes up multiple personalities of a war photographer, a gambler and a closet gay. He wakes up in the middle of a celestial Visa office, which is shown as a liminal place. He has seven moons to try and contact the people, which will lead him to a cache of photos that will shock Sri Lanka.
The Trees by Percival Everett
A series of murders occur in the town of Money in Mississippi. What makes these deaths strange is the second body that appears at each crime scene. This second body always resembles Emmett Till, a young black boy that was lynched in the town sixty-five years earlier. The detectives investigating this strange phenomenon quickly realize that the same thing is happening all over the country. Unsure what to do to solve the mystery, the detectives decide to go to the local root doctor who has been closely documenting every lynching that has happened throughout the country for years. Everett draws on the real-life lynching of Emmett Till to make a black comedy that has something important to say about attitudes towards race.
Oh William! By Elizabeth Strout
Oh William! sees the return of Elizabeth Strout’s beloved heroine Lucy Barton as she tries to navigate the second half of her life as a successful author, mother to two daughters and a recent widow. She finds herself suddenly reconnected with her first husband William due to a random and rather surprising encounter. The two use their chance meeting to reminisce over their time in college, the birth of their children and the eventual end of their marriage. Strout creates a wonderful novel that studies the way that lives weave together in ways of their own.
Small Things Like These by Claire Keegan
This incredibly short novel focuses on Bill Furlong and his family in the build-up to Christmas in 1985. While Keegan examines the make-up of Bill’s family, the novel is also a look at the Magdalene Laundries that emerged throughout Ireland at the time. The story follows Bill as he grapples with the discovery of such a group and his struggles around the true meaning of the Church’s control over his community. Keegan manages to pack a punch in less than 200 pages, which speaks to the true power of her writing.
Treacle Walker by Alan Garner
The Guardian has hailed Treacle Walker as “the book of a lifetime” for British writer Alan Garner, who published his debut in 1960. The enigmatic story follows Joe Coppock, a young, poorly boy and the adventure that unfolds after his encounter with a wandering healer. Much like Garner’s previous novels, this story is concerned with time and how we might step outside of its boundaries to experience the world differently. He blends folklore and science beautifully in this tale of boyhood, imagination and memory.