By Porter Anderson, Editor-in-Chief | @Porter_Anderson
See also: The UK’s Booker Prize for Fiction Looks to Boost Social Media With a Book Club Contest and Nielsen BookData Opens a New Industry-Wide 10 Minute Awards Survey—looking at how industry professionals see the dynamics and value of book awards
Wood: ‘Serious but Never Somber’Those who struggle with the infamous contemporary short attention span can rejoice today: The Booker Prize for Fiction has included its briefest longlisted title on record, the aptly titled Small Things Like These by Claire Keegan, coming in at a time-saving 116 pages. Media messaging indicates that the book is 16 pages shy of the shortest book to have actually taken the prize so far, Offshore by Penelope Fitzgerald, which won at 132 pages in 1979.
This afternoon in London (July 26), small details like those have been dispensed along with the 13-title Booker Prize for Fiction longlist. Some other such points:
- For the first time, the majority of the Booker longlist titles have been produced by independent publishers
- Publishers making their first Booker list appearance are Influx Press and Sort of Books
- This list includes both the youngest and oldest authors to be longlisted for a Booker Prize for Fiction: Leila Mottley is 20 and Alan Garner is to turn 88 on the date of the award ceremony, October 17
- Three debut novelists are here: Mottley, Maddie Mortimer, and Selby Wynn Schwartz
- Previously shortlisted authors are NoViolet Bulawayo, Karen Joy Fowler, and Graeme Macrae Burnet
- One previously longlisted author, Elizabeth Strout, is back for a second longlisting
Six of the 13 authors longlisted this year are American; three are British; two are Irish; one is Sri Lankan; and one is Zimbabwean. And, as you’ll see in jury chair Neil MacGregor’s comments below, one of the more timely topics recurring in this longlist is “the extent to which we can trust the word, spoken or written.”
The Booker jurors this year are MacGregor, Shahidha Bari, Helen Castor, M John Harrison, and Alain Mabanckou.
For our internationalist readership, the Booker Prize for Fiction is not to be confused, of course, with the International Booker Prize, which is focused on translation. The winner of this, the primary award in the Booker Foundation’s work, receives £50,000 (US$60,005). Each of the six authors eventually shortlisted is to receive £2,500 (US$2,999) and a specially bound edition of her or his book.
Reported Market Impact of a Booker Win
For the world book industry, there are helpful facts provided today that have less currency with consumers than with book business professionals: the golden sticker report.
Adding to the information the Booker Foundation previously has provided about its primary award’s market impact—information that all too few of the Booker’s sister book and publishing awards programs offer—the organization relays to the international media today: “According to The Bookseller, in the 12 weeks after his  win, Damon Galgut sold more copies of his books that he did in the previous 17 years since first being published in the United Kingdom.”
Rights to The Promise reportedly have been sold into 35 languages and/or territories. It’s said to have become a bestseller in Greece and Germany.
In case you missed it in our story on July 13, here’s the previously released market-impact information:
- The morning after the winner’s announcement, Galgut’s book was No. 1 on Amazon’s bestseller chart in the UK
- Two weeks after the win, Chatto & Windus announced that it had reprinted 153,000 copies of The Promise, having sold 23,878 copies in hardback, 14,622 of which sold in the two weeks following the news, a 1,925-percent jump in volume compared with the two weeks before
Going farther back, the Booker today tells us that Girl, Woman, Other, by Bernardine Evaristo—co-winner with Margaret Atwood’s The Testaments of the 2019 Booker Prize—was the seventh most popular title borrowed from United Kingdom public libraries for the 2020-2021 public lending rights year.
Booker Prize for Fiction 2022 Longlist
This list was chosen by the jury from 169 novels published in the United Kingdom or Ireland between October 1 of last year and the upcoming September 30. The Booker Prize for Fiction is open to writers of any nationality writing in English and published in the UK or Ireland.
We’re told that, by coincidence, this year’s longlist includes both the first and the last book the jurors read.
|NoViolet Bulawayo||Zimbabwean||Glory||Penguin Random House, Vintage, Chatto & Windus|
|Hernan Diaz||American||Trust||Pan Macmillan, Picador|
|Percival Everett||American||The Trees||Influx Press|
|Karen Joy Fowler||American||Booth||Serpent’s Tail, Profile Books|
|Alan Garner||British||Treacle Walker||HarperCollins, Fourth Estate|
|Shehan Karunatilaka||Sri Lankan||The Seven Moons of Maali Almeida||Sort of Books|
|Claire Keegan||Irish||Small Things Like These||Faber & Faber|
|Graeme Macrae Burnet||British||Case Study||Saraband|
|Audrey Magee||Irish||The Colony||Faber & Faber|
|Maddie Mortimer||British||Maps of Our Spectacular Bodies||Pan Macmillan, Picador|
|Leila Mottley||American||Nightcrawling||Bloomsbury Publishing, Bloomsbury Circus|
|Selby Wynn Schwartz||American||After Sappho||Galley Beggar Press|
|Elizabeth Strout||American||Oh William!||Penguin Random House, Penguin General, Vintage|
MacGregor: ‘The Elusive Nature of Truth’
In statements prepared for today’s announcement, Gaby Wood, director of the Booker Prize Foundation, is quoted painting a pleasant picture of the jury working together, saying, “The 2022 Booker judges come from very different corners of the reading world, yet from the moment they met, they’ve reveled in each other’s opinions and delighted in each other’s company.
“The result is a set of books that are sometimes serious but never somber, whose authors engage you with their wit, even as you absorb their dramatic, painful, or provocative subject matter.
“It’s in this playfulness, of form or tone, that this year’s fiction is at its best.”
MacGregor, speaking as chair of that happy jury, identifies two key themes emerging in the longlist, saying, in part, “All 13 books, of course, reflect—and reflect on—the preoccupations of our planet over the last few years. Unsurprisingly … they address how we imagine disease as a living enemy to be fought on a daily basis, questions of racial and gender injustice, and the fragility of the political order.
“But two larger, and no less topical, themes emerged, both strongly represented in the longlist.
“The first is the extent to which individual lives are shaped and determined by long historical processes. If Tolstoy and Jane Austen can stand as opposite poles of the novel, then it seems that in 2022, Tolstoy is in the ascendant. Whether in Sri Lanka or Ireland, the United States or Zimbabwe, long histories of conflict and injustice are major dynamics of plot.
“The second is the elusive nature of truth: not in the sense that we live in a ‘post-truth world,’ but in demonstrating the persistence, energy, and skepticism required to get as near as is possible to truth, and so to a proper understanding, whether of one particular person, or of a nation-destroying civil war.
“The extent to which we can trust the word, spoken or written, is in many of these books the real subject under examination.
“The task of whittling 169 down to 13 has been as enjoyable as it has been arduous. We, the five judges, bring such different approaches and experiences to our reading, that left to ourselves, we would probably have produced five very different lists. But we read these books as a group, disagreeing and discussing, comparing, reconsidering and re-reading, and together we reached a striking degree of consensus.
“These are 13 books—challenging, stimulating, surprising, nourishing—that we recommend for close and enjoyable reading.”
Booker dates upcoming:
- Shortlist, September 6, at London’s Serpentine Pavilion.
- Winner, October 17, the Monday of Frankfurter Buchmesse week (October 19 to 23)–that program, at the Roundhouse in London, is to be the first fully in-person Booker event since 2019.
The first public event with the Booker Prize 2022 winner takes place on October 20 at Southbank Centre, the Queen Elizabeth Hall, as part of London Literature Festival 2022. The 2021 winner, Galgut, is expected to be there.
We urge publishing professionals to spend 10 minutes responding to the current survey of book awards’ dynamics and values. The survey can be accessed here, and it’s open through August 15. More on this is here.
This is Publishing Perspectives’ 132nd awards-related report in the 137 publication days since our 2022 operations began on January 3.
More from Publishing Perspectives on the Booker Prize for Fiction is here. More on the International Booker Prize is here, more from Publishing Perspectives on both Booker Prize programs is here. And more from us on the international industry’s many book and publishing awards programs overall is here.
And more on the still ongoing coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on international book publishing is here.