21st Century Winners Of The Booker Prize

The Booker Prize is a prestigious literary award given annually to the best novel originally written in English. The winning writer receives a cash prize and the prestige of being one of the most accomplished authors in the English-speaking world.

The prize was established in 1969 and was originally restricted to citizens of the Commonwealth of Nations, Ireland, or Zimbabwe. However, in 2014, the eligibility criteria were changed to allow any author writing in English to have their book considered.

The Booker Prize is a major literary award, and winning it can transform the fortunes of authors and their publishers. Past winners have included some of the most celebrated authors of our time, such as Salman Rushdie, Arundhati Roy, and Hilary Mantel.

The Booker Prize is a testament to the power of literature to connect with readers and to inspire new generations of writers. It is a reminder that great stories can change the world.

Here is a list of all the winners in the 21st century so far:


2022: The Seven Moons of Maali Almeida

by Shehan Karunatilaka, Sri Lanka

Maali Almeida, a war photographer, is found dead in Colombo, Sri Lanka in 1989. His soul finds itself in a transitional afterlife realm called the In Between, where he has seven days to discover who killed him and why. He must also decide whether to move on to The Light or remain in the In Between.

A ghost named Sena tries to recruit Maali into his group of vengeful spirits, but Maali is reluctant to join them. He also has to contend with the Mahakali, a monstrous creature that preys on souls in the In Between.

The story is narrated in a darkly humorous way, which helps to balance the more serious themes of death, violence, and revenge.


2021: The Promise

by Damon Galgut, South Africa

The Promise is a novel about a wealthy white family in South Africa that loses everything, including their farm near Pretoria. The title of the novel refers to a promise made by the father to his dying wife: their black maid, Salome, would be given the house where she and her family had lived. However, for a number of reasons, the promise is never fulfilled. This issue resurfaces repeatedly, causing conflict between the father and his three children, Anton, Astrid, and Amor.

The novel spans 30 years of South African history, from the late 1980s to the present day. It is a story about family, loss, and the legacy of apartheid. Galgut’s writing is witty and insightful, and he skillfully enlists the reader as a collaborator in telling the story.



Shuggie Bain
by Douglas Stuart
United Kingdom

Agnes Bain is the central figure in this story. She is a vivacious woman who takes care to appear and behave with refinement, until she consumes too much alcohol. Shuggie Bain is the protagonist, although he appears to lose sight of himself when he focuses his keen observations on others. Agnes is the most vivid, complex, and appealing character in the story.

Stuart captures the culture of Scotland’s neighborhoods in the 1980s and 1990s, the class system, and the Protestant/Catholic divide. He also conveys a great deal about the sibling dynamics in the Bain family, and how each of the children handles the power and tempest that is their mother, Agnes. The story is clearly fictional, but it has several parallels to the author’s own life. Stuart was raised in Glasgow, his mother was an alcoholic single parent with two older children, and the historical setting of Glasgow ravaged by Thatcherism is accurate.


2019 (The prize was shared by The Testaments and Girl, Woman, Other)

The Testaments
by Margaret Atwood

Margaret Atwood’s sequel to The Handmaid’s Tale, The Testaments, takes readers back to Gilead, a theocratic dictatorship that has been in power for over 15 years. The almighty power of the Commanders seems to be cracking, but they will do anything to maintain their control.

Agnes is a girl who has lived her whole life under Gilead. She has now reached the age when she will have to be partnered off to become a wife. She has her own ideas, but knows that she must work within the rules of Gilead.

Daisy has also lived her entire life knowing nothing before Gilead, but on the other side of the border. Daisy is torn between her desire to help the victims of the attack and her fear of being drawn back into the world of Gilead. She knows that if she gets involved in the investigation, she could be putting herself and her family in danger. But she also knows that she cannot stand by and do nothing while innocent people suffer.

The two girls, Hannah and Nicole, are closely connected to Aunt Lydia. Lydia, the Founding Aunt of Gilead, tells her own story about living in Gilead and helping to establish some of its fundamental principles. As pressure builds to find the long-lost Baby Nicole, the people of Gilead turn to their leaders, who are determined to exact revenge on those who caused such sorrow.

Agnes, Lydia, and Daisy are at the heart of this story, though their agendas are all their own. Atwood brilliantly concocts a story that provides a great peek behind the curtain into the inner workings of Gilead, while drawing some parallels to current circumstances where leaders stand, sensing they are above the law.


Girl, Woman, Other
by Bernardine Evaristo
United Kingdom

Girl, Woman, Other is a novel that perfectly captures the diversity of Black British women. The book is divided into twelve interconnected chapters, each of which focuses on a different woman. Eleven of the women are Black, and one is a white woman who discovers that she has Black ancestry.

The novel explores a wide range of experiences and perspectives, from the lives of working-class women to the lives of wealthy women. It also explores a wide range of topics, including feminism, sexuality, gender identity, race, class, and family.

Evaristo’s characters are complex and well-developed. They are not simply stereotypes, but real people with their own unique stories. The novel is both heartwarming and heartbreaking, and it offers a powerful glimpse into the lives of Black British women.



by Anna Burns
Northern Ireland

The novel Milkman follows an 18-year-old girl living in Belfast during the Troubles. The girl, who is unnamed, is stalked by a paramilitary older man known as “the Milkman.” The story explores the girl’s experiences with harassment, gossip, and the complex social rules of her community.

The girl’s mother wants her to be married and have children, but the girl is not interested in either. She is seeing a “maybe boyfriend,” but she is not sure if she wants to be with him. When the Milkman starts stalking her, the girl’s mother believes the rumours that she is his mistress. The girl’s eccentricity, such as her habit of jogging and reading while walking, further alienates her from her family and friends.

The girl’s brother-in-laws, one nasty and one nice, play a significant role in the story. The nasty brother-in-law spreads the rumours about the girl, while the nice brother-in-law is concerned about her eccentricity. The community in which the girl lives is divided along religious lines, and there are many rules and codes that people must follow. For example, people avoid going to the hospital because they fear being labelled as informers.

The novel is full of shock moments, such as the killing of the dogs by the soldiers, the head of the cats and the adoration of the local elderly women. The gossip, family politics, and the Troubles combine to create a story that is at times funny, tragic, and poignant.



Lincoln in the Bardo
by George Saunders
United States


In Lincoln in the Bardo, George Saunders weaves together fact and fiction to tell the story of Abraham Lincoln’s grief over the death of his son Willie. The novel is set in 1862, during the Civil War, when Lincoln is facing both the personal tragedy of his son’s death and the political challenge of leading the country through a bloody conflict.

Willie dies of typhoid fever at the age of 11, and his father is devastated. He visits Willie’s grave in Georgetown Cemetery several times, and he begins to have visions of his son in the bardo, a Tibetan Buddhist term for the intermediate state between death and rebirth.

In the bardo, Willie is trapped by his father’s grief. He cannot move on to the next life because he is still attached to his father. Lincoln’s love for his son is both a source of comfort and a barrier to Willie’s spiritual journey.

The novel is a powerful exploration of grief, loss, and the nature of consciousness. It is also a meditation on the power of love and the possibility of hope in the face of tragedy.



The Sellout
by Paul Beatty
United States

The Sellout is a satirical novel about race in modern America. The novel begins with the narrator, a nameless black man, appearing before the Supreme Court. He is charged with owning a slave. The narrator then recounts his childhood in the town of Dickens, which is now disappearing from maps.

The narrator is determined to bring Dickens back to life. He “employs” Hominy, one of Dickens’ oldest residents to act as his slave. Hominy is eager to take on this role, and he even insists on calling the narrator “massa.” The narrator will stop at nothing to bring Dickens back, even if it means resorting to extreme measures.



A Brief History of Seven Killings
by Marlon James

A Brief History of Seven Killings is a novel that explores the Jamaican underworld through the lens of the attempted assassination of Bob Marley in 1976. The story follows a diverse cast of characters, including gang members, politicians, CIA officials, journalists, and ordinary citizens, all of whom are connected to the events of that day.

The novel is set in Kingston, Jamaica, and the surrounding areas, and it vividly captures the violence, poverty, and corruption that have plagued the country for decades. However, A Brief History of Seven Killings is also a story about hope and resilience. It shows how even in the most difficult of circumstances, people can find ways to survive and even thrive.

The novel is divided into two parts. The first part takes place in Jamaica in the lead-up to the assassination attempt, and the second part follows the characters as they move to the United States in the years that follow. The two parts are connected by the theme of violence, but they also explore different aspects of the Jamaican experience.

A Brief History of Seven Killings is a complex and challenging novel, but it is also a rewarding one. It is a powerful and moving story that offers a unique perspective on Jamaica and its people.



The Narrow Road to the Deep North
by Richard Flanagan

The Narrow Road to the Deep North is a novel about Dorrigo Evans, a young surgeon who is engaged to Ella but is also having an affair with his uncle’s much younger wife, Amy. When World War II breaks out, Dorrigo is captured by the Japanese and forced to work on the infamous Burma Railway. His experience in the camp is horrific, and he sees things that he will never forget.

After the war, Dorrigo returns to Australia and is hailed as a hero for his role as commanding officer in the camp. However, he feels that his soul died in the camp, and he is unable to connect with Ella or Amy. He fills his hollow life with compulsive philandering, and he becomes a revered figure even though he does not feel worthy of his fame.

The novel explores the themes of guilt, trauma, and redemption. It is a powerful story about the human capacity for both good and evil.



The Luminaries
by Eleanor Catton
Canada / New Zealand

Eleanor Catton’s second novel, The Luminaries, is a sprawling and complex work that defies easy categorization. Set in the New Zealand goldfields in the mid-1860s, the novel blends elements of murder mystery, history, love story, and drama. With over 800 pages and 20 main characters, The Luminaries is not a book to be taken lightly.

The novel begins with the arrival of Scottish-born Walter Moody in the gold town of Hokitikta. Moody is shocked and nauseous upon his arrival, and he soon finds himself embroiled in a series of mysterious events. A wealthy man has disappeared, a local prostitute has attempted suicide, and a fortune has been discovered at the home of an alcoholic who is now dead. Moody is drawn into the investigation of these events, and he soon finds himself caught up in a web of intrigue and deception.

The Luminaries is a masterfully crafted novel that is full of surprises. Catton’s characters are complex and well-developed, and the plot is intricate and suspenseful. The novel is also beautifully written, with a rich prose style that evokes the atmosphere of the New Zealand goldfields.



Bring Up The Bodies
by Hilary Mantel
United Kingdom

Bring Up the Bodies is an historical novel by Hilary Mantel, the sequel to her Booker Prize-winning novel Wolf Hall. It is the second part of a trilogy charting the fortunes of King Henry VIII’s minister, Thomas Cromwell. The novel follows closely upon the events of Wolf Hall, and begins with the King and Cromwell visiting the Seymour family at their manor house, Wolf Hall. The King is already attracted to Jane Seymour, and their relationship begins to blossom. Meanwhile, the King’s marriage to Anne Boleyn is in trouble. She has failed to give him a male heir, and their relationship is often stormy.

Finally, the King tells Cromwell that he wants to end his marriage to Anne. Cromwell promises to find a legal way to do so, and the novel follows the events that lead to Anne’s downfall and execution.



The Sense of an Ending
by Julian Barnes
United Kingdom

The Sense of an Ending is the story of a retired man named Tony Webster as he reflects on his childhood friendships and a significant college girlfriend. He is now middle-aged and divorced, and his perspective on these events is markedly different from what it was when he was younger.

One of the most perplexing things to Tony is the fate of his friend Adrian Finn, who was once considered to be the most promising of their group. The easy answers from Tony’s youth no longer tell the entire story of Adrian’s life, and Tony is forced to confront the complex reasons behind his friend’s actions.

Throughout the story, Tony is able to step back from judgment and blame. This allows him to see things from a different perspective and to forgive himself and others. In the end, Tony achieves true maturity, and he is able to let go of the past and move on with his life.

The ending of the story is particularly powerful. Just when Tony thinks he has figured things out, he is presented with a new piece of information that shatters his understanding of the past. This ending leaves the reader with a sense of ambiguity and uncertainty, but it also forces us to think more deeply about the nature of memory and the meaning of life.



The Finkler Question
by Howard Jacobson
United Kingdom

The Finkler Question is a novel by Howard Jacobson that explores the complex and often contradictory nature of antisemitism. The novel follows three friends in London: Julian Treslove, a Jew-want-to-be former BBC radio producer; Sam Finkler, a popular Jewish television personality; and Libor Sevcik, their former teacher. Each of the characters is a study in contrasts, and their relationships with each other are often fraught with tension.

The novel begins with Treslove being attacked and robbed on the street. He is convinced that he was attacked because he was mistaken for a Jew, and this incident sets off a chain of events that leads him to question his own identity and his relationship to Judaism.

Finkler, on the other hand, is a proud and outspoken Jew who is not afraid to confront antisemitism head-on. He is a successful television personality, and he uses his platform to speak out against prejudice and discrimination.

Sevcik is a more complex character. He is a former Holocaust survivor who has come to terms with his own antisemitism. He is a wise and compassionate man, and he provides Treslove with much-needed guidance as he struggles to come to terms with his own identity.

The Finkler Question is a thought-provoking novel that explores the many different ways that antisemitism manifests itself in our society. It is a challenging read, but it is ultimately a rewarding one.



Wolf Hall
by Hilary Mantel
United Kingdom

Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel is a fictionalized biography of Thomas Cromwell, a man who rose from humble beginnings to become one of Henry VIII’s most powerful ministers. The novel spans from 1500 to 1535, and it follows Cromwell as he navigates the turbulent political landscape of Tudor England.

Cromwell is the son of a Putney blacksmith, but he is determined to make a name for himself. He begins his career as a lawyer, and he quickly rises through the ranks of the church hierarchy. He becomes a trusted advisor to Cardinal Thomas Wolsey, and he is instrumental in Wolsey’s efforts to secure a divorce for Henry VIII from Catherine of Aragon.

After Wolsey’s downfall, Cromwell becomes Henry’s chief minister. He is a shrewd and ruthless politician, and he is not afraid to use his power to achieve his goals. He oversees the dissolution of the monasteries, and he helps to secure Henry’s marriage to Anne Boleyn.

Wolf Hall is a complex and engrossing novel that offers a fascinating glimpse into the life of one of history’s most enigmatic figures. Mantel’s prose is beautiful and evocative, and she brings Cromwell to life in a way that few other writers have been able to do.



The White Tiger
by Aravind Adiga

The White Tiger tells the story of Balram Halwai, a poor villager who becomes a chauffeur to a wealthy family in Delhi. Balram is a brilliant and ambitious young man, but he is also deeply cynical about the Indian caste system and the corruption that pervades Indian society. After he is forced to commit murder, Balram flees to Bangalore, where he tries to make a new life for himself.

The White Tiger is a darkly comic and satirical novel that explores the themes of class, caste, and corruption in India.



The Gathering
by Anne Enright

Anne Enright’s The Gathering is a dark and disturbing novel that tells the story of a dysfunctional Irish Catholic family. The novel is narrated by Veronica Hegarty, the seventh of twelve children. Veronica’s life is seemingly perfect on the outside, but she is deeply troubled on the inside. She is still haunted by something that occurred one summer when she and her brother and sister, Liam and Kitty, were sent to live with their grandmother. Liam never quite recovers from the events of that summer, and some thirty years later, he commits suicide.

The novel is a journey through Veronica’s bitter and coarse memories, as she tries to make sense of Liam’s death. It is a story of family secrets, abuse, and loss. The Gathering is a powerful and moving novel.



The Inheritance of Loss
by Kiran Desai

The Inheritance of Loss won the National Book Critics Circle Fiction Award and the Crossword Book Award. as well as the Man Booker Prize that year.

The story is told from the alternating perspectives of two main characters: Biju, an undocumented Indian immigrant living in New York City, and Sai, a teenage girl living in Kalimpong, India, with her maternal grandfather.

Biju is a cook’s son who came to the United States in search of a better life. He works long hours in a series of low-paying jobs, struggling to survive and to send money back to his family in India. Sai is an orphaned girl who is trying to come to terms with her mother’s death and her father’s absence. She is also struggling to fit in with the other girls in her school, who are all from wealthy families.

The novel explores the themes of immigration, displacement, and loss. It also examines the complex relationship between India and the West.



The Sea
by John Banville

Max Morden revisits a childhood event that has haunted him for years. He is grieving the death of his wife and trying to understand what is happening to him and he turns to alcohol for solace.

The book alternates between the long-ago summer and episodes in his life with his wife. We see the wooing and wedding of his wife, the diagnosis, and her decline into death. We also glimpse a childhood summer, including a first romance, infidelity, and the complex goings on among the grownups. Max still can’t make sense of those events.

The return to the house where much of the tempestuous summer occurred stirs up old ghosts, without any enlightenment.



The Line of Beauty
by Allan Hollinghurst
United Kingdom

The Line of Beauty  tells the story of Nick Guest, a young man who moves into the Notting Hill home of the Feddens, a wealthy Conservative family. Nick is drawn to the Feddens’ world of privilege and beauty, but he also finds himself at odds with their hypocrisy and their attitudes towards homosexuality. The novel explores themes of class, sexuality, and the AIDS crisis in 1980s Britain.

The Line of Beauty was a critical and commercial success, winning the Man Booker Prize in 2004. It has been praised for its lush prose, its complex characters, and its unflinching exploration of difficult subjects.



Vernon God Little
by DBC Pierre

Vernon God Little is a novel that explores the dark side of American society. It shines a light on the intrusive media, the materialistic lifestyle, the attention seekers, the gossip mongers, and the apathy towards human life.

The novel is narrated by Vernon Gregory Little, a 15-year-old boy who is the sole survivor of a school shooting. Vernon is innocent, but he is quickly scapegoated by the media and the public. He is accused of being a psychopath, a Satanist, and even the shooter himself.

Vernon is forced to live in the spotlight, and he is constantly hounded by the media. He is also subjected to the cruelty of the public, who taunt and abuse him. Vernon’s story is a harrowing one, but it is also a powerful indictment of the society that created him.

The first half of the novel is told in a dark and cynical voice. Vernon is a foul-mouthed teenager who is angry at the world. He curses constantly, and he seems to revel in his own misery. However, as the novel progresses, Vernon begins to find hope. He meets a girl named Ella who believes in his innocence, and he starts to find faith in God.

The novel ends with Vernon finding redemption. He is acquitted of the charges against him, and he is able to start a new life. However, the events of the novel have left a permanent mark on him. He is no longer the same person he was before the shooting, and he will never be able to forget what he has been through.



Life of Pi
by Yann Martel

Life of Pi is a story about survival. It is the story of a young boy named Piscine Molitor Patel who, after surviving a shipwreck, finds himself stranded on a lifeboat on the ocean with a hyena, a zebra, an orangutan, and a tiger. The lifeboat is small and cramped, and the animals are all fighting for survival. Pi must use all of his ingenuity and strength to keep himself alive.

The story is also about the nature of truth, religion, and stories. Pi is a Hindu, a Muslim, and a Christian, and he believes that all three religions are true. He tells the story of his survival in two different ways, one that is more believable and one that is more fantastical. The reader is left to decide which story is true.

Life of Pi is a powerful and moving story about survival, faith, and the power of the human spirit.



True History of the Kelly Gang
by Peter Carey

Peter Carey’s novel True History of the Kelly Gang tells the story of the infamous Australian outlaw Ned Kelly from the perspective of one of his gang members. The Kelly Gang was a group of outlaws who were treated poorly by society and forced to turn to a life of crime in order to survive. They were eventually hunted down by the Australian government, but the hunt took years and cost many lives.

The novel is a fascinating exploration of the Kelly Gang’s story and the social and political context in which they lived. It is also a well-written and exciting read.



The Blind Assassin
by Margaret Atwood

The Blind Assassin is a fascinating and bold blend of genres, including Canadian early twentieth century family chronicle, pulp science fiction, and clandestine romance. The story is told by an unnamed female narrator, presumably Iris’ younger sister Laura, who recounts her secret love affair with the communist agitator Alex. During their clandestine meetings, Alex tells Laura science fiction stories about the people of the planet Zycron, which exists “in another dimension of space and time.” As the main novel develops, it becomes clear that the science fiction story mirrors the lives of the main protagonists, as well as the social and political situation of the time.

The pacing of the novel is uneven, with some sections moving slowly and others more quickly. However, the overall effect is a rich and complex story that explores themes of love, loss, betrayal, and the power of imagination.

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