A strong Showing from Independent Houses for Booker Longlist


The 2022 Booker Prize longlist has been announced and is notable for its strong showing from independent publishers. It raises questions over whether the conglomerate houses are being as adept as their much smaller rivals at spotting emerging writers for the £50,000 prize.

The full list is as follows:

NoViolet Bulawayo (Zimbabwean) Glory (Chatto & Windus, Vintage, Penguin Random House)
Hernan Diaz (American) Trust (Picador, Pan Macmillan)
Percival Everett (American) The Trees (Influx Press)
Karen Joy Fowler (American) Booth (Serpent’s Tail, Profile Books)
Alan Garner (British) Treacle Walker (4th Estate, HarperCollins)
Shehan Karunatilaka (Sri Lankan) The Seven Moons of Maali
Almeida (Sort of Books)
Claire Keegan (Irish) Small Things Like These (Faber)
Graeme Macrae Burnet (British) Case Study (Saraband)
Audrey Magee (Irish) The Colony (Faber)
Maddie Mortimer (British) Maps of our Spectacular Bodies (Picador, Pan Macmillan)
Leila Mottley (American) Nightcrawling (Bloomsbury Circus, Bloomsbury Publishing)
Selby Wynn Schwartz (American) After Sappho (Galley Beggar Press)
Elizabeth Strout (American) Oh William! (Viking, Penguin General, Penguin Random House)

No book from Booker staples Cape (Penguin Random House),
Hamish Hamilton (also PRH) or Viking (PRH) has been chosen, nor is there any title from any Hachette imprint.

Among new houses featured this year is Influx Press, publisher of The Trees by the American writer Percival Everett (pictured). Based in north London and with a staff of just two, it was founded in 2011 and has a reputation for spotting new talent. The New Statesman observes: “Influx Press is one of the most important small publishing houses in the UK. Their eye for overlooked, interesting writers is unparalleled, and it’s no surprise that so many of the people they take a chance on publishing go on to be so loved. The literary scene in this country would be, in my estimation, dramatically poorer without them.”

The Booker Prize foundation notes some interesting facts about this year’s longlist:

• The longlist features the youngest and oldest author ever to be longlisted: 20-year-old Leila Mottley and octogenarian Alan Garner, who will celebrate his 88th birthday on the night of the winner ceremony
• At 116 pages, Claire Keegan’s Small Things Like These is the shortest book recognised in the prize’s history – the shortest to win was Offshore by Penelope Fitzgerald (1979) at 132 pages
• Three debut novelists make the list: Maddie Mortimer, Leila Mottley and Selby Wynn Schwartz
• Previously shortlisted authors NoViolet Bulawayo, Karen Joy Fowler and Graeme Macrae Burnet, and previously longlisted Elizabeth Strout are recognised
• Majority published by independent publishers, including first time appearances from Influx Press and Sort of Books

The chair of the judges, Neil MacGregor, former director of the British Museum, said: “All 13 books, of course, reflect — and reflect on — the preoccupations of our planet over the last few years. Unsurprisingly, in the wake of the pandemic, 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 scepticism 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 shortlist will be announced on 6 September and the winner on 17 October.