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The Booker Prize
Presented by
  • Booker, McConnell Ltd (1969–2001)
  • Man Group (2002–2019)
  • Crankstart (2019 onwards)
Location Somerset House, Strand, London WC2R 1LA, England
Reward £50,000
First awarded 1969; 55 years ago (1969)

The Booker Prize, formerly the Booker Prize for Fiction (1969–2001) and the Man Booker Prize (2002–2019), is a literary award conferred each year for the best novel written in the English language, which was published in the United Kingdom and Ireland. The winner of the Booker Prize receives international publicity that usually leads to a sales boost. When the prize was created, only novels written by Commonwealth, Irish, and South African (and later Zimbabwean) citizens were eligible to receive the prize; in 2014, eligibility was widened to any English-language novel.

A five-person panel constituted by authors, librarians, literary agents, publishers, and booksellers is appointed by the Booker Prize Foundation each year to choose the winning book. As of 2015, the chief executive of the Booker Prize Foundation is Gaby Wood.

A high-profile literary award in British culture, the Booker Prize is greeted with anticipation and fanfare. Literary critics have noted that it is a mark of distinction for authors to be selected for inclusion in the shortlist or to be nominated for the "longlist".

A sister prize, the International Booker Prize, is awarded for a book translated into English and published in the United Kingdom or Ireland. The £50,000 prize money is split evenly between the author and translator of the winning novel.

History and administration

The prize was established as the "Booker Prize for Fiction" after the company Booker, McConnell Ltd began sponsoring the event in 1969; it became commonly known as the "Booker Prize" or the "Booker".

The original Booker Prize trophy was designed by the artist Jan Pieńkowski. The first winner of the Booker Prize was P. H. Newby in 1969 for his novel Something to Answer For.

In 1970, Bernice Rubens became the first woman to win the Booker Prize, for The Elected Member. The rules of the Booker changed in 1971; previously, it had been awarded retrospectively to books published prior to the year in which the award was given. In 1971, the year of eligibility was changed to the same as the year of the award; in effect, this meant that books published in 1970 were not considered for the Booker in either year. The Booker Prize Foundation announced in January 2010 the creation of a special award called the "Lost Man Booker Prize", with the winner chosen from a longlist of 22 novels published in 1970.

Alice Munro's The Beggar Maid was shortlisted in 1980, and remains the only short-story collection to be shortlisted.

In 1992, the jury split the prize between Michael Ondaatje's The English Patient and Barry Unsworth's Sacred Hunger. This prompted the foundation to draw up a rule that made it mandatory for the appointed jury to make the award to just a single author/book.

Before 2001, each year's longlist of nominees was not publicly revealed. From 2001, the longlisted novels started to be published each year, and in 2007 the number of nominees was capped at 12 or 13 each year.

The Booker Prize created a permanent home for the archives from 1968 to present at Oxford Brookes University Library. The Archive, which encompasses the administrative history of the Prize from 1968 to date, collects together a diverse range of material, including correspondence, publicity material, copies of both the Longlists and the Shortlists, minutes of meetings, photographs and material relating to the awards dinner (letters of invitation, guest lists, seating plans). Embargoes of ten or twenty years apply to certain categories of material; examples include all material relating to the judging process and the Longlist prior to 2002.

Between 2005 and 2008, the Booker Prize alternated between writers from Ireland and India.

The Man Booker Prize 2015 logo
2015 logo of the then Man Booker Prize

Historically, the winner of the Booker Prize had been required to be a citizen of the Commonwealth of Nations, the Republic of Ireland, or Zimbabwe. It was announced on 18 September 2013 that future Booker Prize awards would consider authors from anywhere in the world, so long as their work was in English and published in the UK.

Man Group announced in early 2019 that the year's prize would be the last of eighteen under their sponsorship. A new sponsor, Crankstart – a charitable foundation run by Sir Michael Moritz and his wife, Harriet Heyman – then announced it would sponsor the award for five years, with the option to renew for another five years. The award title was changed to simply "The Booker Prize".

In 2019, despite having been unequivocally warned against doing so, the foundation's jury – under the chair Peter Florence – split the prize, awarding it to two authors, in breach of a rule established in 1993. The two were British writer Bernardine Evaristo for her novel Girl, Woman, Other and Canadian writer Margaret Atwood for The Testaments. Evaristo's win marked the first time the Booker had been awarded to a black woman, while Atwood's win, at 79, made her the oldest winner.


The selection process for the winner of the prize commences with the formation of an advisory committee, which includes a writer, two publishers, a literary agent, a bookseller, a librarian, and a chairperson appointed by the Booker Prize Foundation. The advisory committee then selects the judging panel of five people, the membership of which changes each year, although on rare occasions a judge may be selected a second time. Judges are selected from amongst leading literary critics, writers, academics and leading public figures.

The Booker judging process and the very concept of a "best book" being chosen by a small number of literary insiders is controversial for many.

The winner was usually announced at a formal dinner in London's Guildhall in early October. However, in 2020, with COVID-19 pandemic restrictions in place, the winner ceremony was broadcast in November from The Roundhouse, in partnership with the BBC.

Legacy of British Empire

Luke Strongman noted that the rules for the Booker Prize as laid out in 1969, with recipients limited to novelists writing in English from Great Britain or nations that had once belonged to the British Empire, strongly suggested the purpose of the prize was to deepen ties between the nations that had all been a part of the empire. The first book to win the Booker, Something to Answer For in 1969, concerned the misadventures of an Englishman in Egypt in the 1950s, at the time when British influence in Egypt was ending. Strongman wrote that most of the books that have won the Booker Prize have in some way been concerned with the legacy of the British Empire, with many of the prize winners having engaged in imperial nostalgia. However, over time many of the books that won the prize have reflected the changed balance of power from the emergence of new identities in the former colonies of the empire, and with it "culture after the empire". The attempts of successive British officials to mould "the natives" into their image did not fully succeed, but did profoundly and permanently change the cultures of the colonised, a theme that some non-white winners of the Booker prize have engaged with in various ways.


Year Author Title Genre(s) Country
1969 P. H. Newby Something to Answer For Novel United Kingdom
1970 Bernice Rubens The Elected Member Novel United Kingdom
1971 V. S. Naipaul In a Free State Novel United Kingdom
Trinidad and Tobago
1972 John Berger G. Experimental novel United Kingdom
1973 J. G. Farrell The Siege of Krishnapur Novel United Kingdom
1974 Nadine Gordimer The Conservationist Novel South Africa
Stanley Middleton Holiday Novel United Kingdom
1975 Ruth Prawer Jhabvala Heat and Dust Historical novel United Kingdom
1976 David Storey Saville Novel United Kingdom
1977 Paul Scott Staying On Novel United Kingdom
1978 Iris Murdoch The Sea, the Sea Philosophical novel United Kingdom
1979 Penelope Fitzgerald Offshore Novel United Kingdom
1980 William Golding Rites of Passage Novel United Kingdom
1981 Salman Rushdie Midnight's Children Magic realism United Kingdom
1982 Thomas Keneally Schindler's Ark Biographical novel Australia
1983 J. M. Coetzee Life & Times of Michael K Novel South Africa
1984 Anita Brookner Hotel du Lac Novel United Kingdom
1985 Keri Hulme The Bone People Mystery novel New Zealand
1986 Kingsley Amis The Old Devils Comic novel United Kingdom
1987 Penelope Lively Moon Tiger Novel United Kingdom
1988 Peter Carey Oscar and Lucinda Historical novel Australia
1989 Kazuo Ishiguro The Remains of the Day Historical novel United Kingdom
1990 A. S. Byatt Possession Historiographic metafiction United Kingdom
1991 Ben Okri The Famished Road Magic realism Nigeria
1992 Michael Ondaatje The English Patient Historiographic metafiction Canada
Sri Lanka
Barry Unsworth Sacred Hunger Historical novel United Kingdom
1993 Roddy Doyle Paddy Clarke Ha Ha Ha Novel Ireland
1994 James Kelman How Late It Was, How Late Stream of consciousness United Kingdom
1995 Pat Barker The Ghost Road War novel United Kingdom
1996 Graham Swift Last Orders Novel United Kingdom
1997 Arundhati Roy The God of Small Things Novel India
1998 Ian McEwan Amsterdam Novel United Kingdom
1999 J. M. Coetzee Disgrace Novel South Africa
2000 Margaret Atwood The Blind Assassin Historical novel Canada
2001 Peter Carey True History of the Kelly Gang Historical novel Australia
2002 Yann Martel Life of Pi Fantasy and adventure novel Canada
2003 DBC Pierre Vernon God Little Black comedy Australia
2004 Alan Hollinghurst The Line of Beauty Historical novel United Kingdom
2005 John Banville The Sea Novel Ireland
2006 Kiran Desai The Inheritance of Loss Novel India
2007 Anne Enright The Gathering Novel Ireland
2008 Aravind Adiga The White Tiger Novel India
2009 Hilary Mantel Wolf Hall Historical novel United Kingdom
2010 Howard Jacobson The Finkler Question Comic novel United Kingdom
2011 Julian Barnes The Sense of an Ending Novel United Kingdom
2012 Hilary Mantel Bring Up the Bodies Historical novel United Kingdom
2013 Eleanor Catton The Luminaries Historical novel New Zealand
2014 Richard Flanagan The Narrow Road to the Deep North Historical novel Australia
2015 Marlon James A Brief History of Seven Killings Historical/experimental novel Jamaica
2016 Paul Beatty The Sellout Satirical novel United States
2017 George Saunders Lincoln in the Bardo Historical/experimental novel United States
2018 Anna Burns Milkman Novel United Kingdom
2019 Margaret Atwood The Testaments Novel Canada
Bernardine Evaristo Girl, Woman, Other Experimental novel United Kingdom
2020 Douglas Stuart Shuggie Bain Novel United Kingdom
United States
2021 Damon Galgut The Promise Novel South Africa
2022 Shehan Karunatilaka The Seven Moons of Maali Almeida Novel Sri Lanka
2023 Paul Lynch Prophet Song Dystopian novel Ireland

Special awards

In 1971, the nature of the prize was changed so that it was awarded to novels published in that year instead of in the previous year; therefore, no novel published in 1970 could win the Booker Prize. This was rectified in 2010 by the awarding of the "Lost Man Booker Prize" to J. G. Farrell's Troubles.

In 1993, to mark the prize's 25th anniversary, a "Booker of Bookers" Prize was given. Three previous judges of the award, Malcolm Bradbury, David Holloway and W. L. Webb, met and chose Salman Rushdie's Midnight's Children, the 1981 winner, as "the best novel out of all the winners".

In 2006, the Man Booker Prize set up a "Best of Beryl" prize, for the author Beryl Bainbridge, who had been nominated five times and yet failed to win once. The prize is said to count as a Booker Prize. The nominees were An Awfully Big Adventure, Every Man for Himself, The Bottle Factory Outing, The Dressmaker and Master Georgie, which won.

Similarly, The Best of the Booker was awarded in 2008 to celebrate the prize's 40th anniversary. A shortlist of six winners was chosen — Rushdie's Midnight's Children, Coetzee' Disgrace, Carey's Oscar and Lucinda, Gordimer's The Conservationist, Farrell's The Siege of Krishnapur, and Barker's The Ghost Road — and the decision was left to a public vote; the winner was again Midnight's Children.

In 2018, to celebrate the 50th anniversary, the Golden Man Booker was awarded. One book from each decade was selected by a panel of judges: Naipaul's In a Free State (the 1971 winner), Lively's Moon Tiger (1987), Ondaatje's The English Patient (1992), Mantel's Wolf Hall (2009) and Saunders' Lincoln in the Bardo (2017). The winner, by popular vote, was The English Patient.

See also

Kids robot.svg In Spanish: Premio Booker para niños

  • International Booker Prize
  • List of British literary awards
  • List of literary awards
  • Commonwealth Writers Prize
  • Grand Prix of Literary Associations
  • Costa Book Awards
  • Prix Goncourt
  • Governor General's Awards
  • Scotiabank Giller Prize
  • Miles Franklin Award
  • Russian Booker Prize
  • Samuel Johnson Prize (non-fiction)
  • German Book Prize (Deutscher Buchpreis)
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