Booker Smart

Authors on the Booker Prize shortlist for 2022 represented five different nationalities and four continents, with an equal split of men and women. Most of these were inspired by real events, ranging from the Sri Lankan Civil War to the murder of Emmett Till in the US. Here are all six books, including the recently announced winner.

The Seven Moons of Maali Almeida by Shehan Karunatilaka
Colombo, 1990. Maali Almeida, war photographer, gambler and closet gay, has woken up dead in what seems like a celestial visa office. His dismembered body is sinking in the serene Beira Lake and he has no idea who killed him. The list of suspects is depressingly long, but even in the afterlife, time is running out for Maali. He has seven moons to try and contact the man and woman he loves most and lead them to a hidden cache of photos that will rock Sri Lanka. Ten years after his prizewinning novel Chinaman established him as one of Sri Lanka’s foremost authors, the Booker Prize 2022 has emphatically endorsed Shehan Karunatilaka and his rip-roaring epic, which is full of mordant wit and disturbing truths | Sort of Books, £16.99

The Trees by Percival Everett
This uncanny literary thriller addresses the painful legacy of lynching in the US. It opens with a series of brutal murders in a rural town in Mississippi. When a pair of detectives arrive, they meet expected resistance from the local sheriff, his deputy, the coroner, and racist White townsfolk. The murders present a puzzle, for at each crime scene there is a second dead body: that of a man who resembles Emmett Till. The detectives suspect that these are killings of retribution, but soon discover that eerily similar murders are taking place all over the country. As the bodies pile up, the MBI detectives seek answers from a local root doctor who has been documenting every lynching in the country for years, uncovering a history that refuses to be buried. In this bold, provocative book, Everett takes direct aim at racism and police violence | Influx Press, £9.99

Small Things Like These by Claire Keegan
Award-winning author Claire Keegan’s landmark new novel, IS a tale of one man’s courage and a remarkable portrait of love and family. It is 1985 in a small Irish town. During the weeks leading up to Christmas, Bill Furlong, a coal merchant and family man faces his busiest season. Early one morning, while delivering an order to the local convent, Bill makes a discovery which forces him to confront both his past and the complicit silences of a town controlled by the church. A deeply affecting story of hope, quiet heroism, and empathy from one of our most critically lauded and iconic writers | Faber & Faber, £10

Oh William! by Elizabeth Strout
Elizabeth Strout returns to her heroine Lucy Barton, a successful writer in New York navigating life as a recent widow and parent to two adult daughters. A surprise encounter leads her to William, her first husband – and longtime, on-again-off-again friend and confidante. Recalling their college years, the birth of their daughters, the painful dissolution of their marriage and the lives they built with other people, Strout weaves a portrait, stunning in its subtlety, of a tender, complex, decades-long partnership. Oh William! captures the joy and sorrow of watching children grow up; of discovering family secrets, late in life, that alter everything we think we know; and the way people live and love, against all odds | Penguin Books Ltd, £8.99

Glory by NoViolet Bulawayo
Glory sees a bold, vivid chorus of animal voices calling out the dangerous absurdity of contemporary global politics, and helping us see our human world more clearly. A long time ago, in a bountiful land, the animal denizens lived quite happily. Then the colonisers arrived. After nearly a hundred years, a bloody War of Liberation brought new hope for the animals, and a new leader. A charismatic horse who commanded the sun ruled for 40 years. But even the sticks and stones know there is no night that does not end with dawn. And so it did for the Old Horse, bringing a new regime, a new leader and once again, the animals were full of hope… Here is a story of a country seemingly trapped in a cycle as old as time. It reminds us that the glory of tyranny only lasts as long as its victims are willing to let it. History can be stopped in a moment. With the return of a long-lost daughter, a turning tide, even a single bullet | £18.99, Vintage Publishing

Treacle Walker by Alan Garner
An introspective young boy, Joseph Coppock squints at the world with his lazy eye. Living alone, he reads comics, collects birds’ eggs and plays with his marbles. When, one day, a rag-and-bone man called Treacle Walker appears, exchanging an empty jar of a cure-all medicine and a donkey stone for a pair of Joseph’s pyjamas and a lamb’s shoulder blade, a mysterious friendship develops between them. A fusion of myth, magic and the stories we make for ourselves, Treacle Walker has been lauded as an extraordinary novel from one of our greatest living writers | £12.99, Fourth Estate