The 2023 Booker Prize Longlist

By Collection Management Librarian Kathy

The 2023 Booker Prize book covers
Photograph by the Booker Prizes.

The UK’s most prestigious literary award, The Booker Prize is awarded annually to the best novel of the year written in English and published in the UK or Ireland. Check out the longlist titles below—featuring all of the titles currently or soon to be available in the U.S.—and look for the shortlist announced in September and the winner in November.

The longlist

A Spell of Good Things by Ayobami Adebayo

Try it, if you liked: The Girl With the Louding Voice by Abi Dare, Age of Vice by Deepti Kapoor, or Welcome to Lagos by Chibundu Onuzo.

Description: Eniola is tall for his age, a boy who looks like a man. Because his father has lost his job, Eniola spends his days running errands for the local tailor, collecting newspapers, begging when he must, dreaming of a big future. Wuraola is a golden girl, the perfect child of a wealthy family. Now an exhausted young doctor in her first year of practice, she is beloved by Kunle, the volatile son of an ascendant politician. When a local politician takes an interest in Eniola and sudden violence shatters a family party, Wuraola's and Eniola’s lives become intertwined.

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Old God's Time by Sebastian Barry

Try it, if you liked: Gone So Long by Andre Dubus, Small Things Like These by Claire Keegan, or In the Lake of the Woods by Tim O'Brien.

Description: Recently retired policeman Tom Kettle is settling into the quiet of his new home, a lean-to annexed to a Victorian castle overlooking the Irish Sea. For months he has barely seen a soul, catching only glimpses of his eccentric landlord and a nervous young mother who has moved in next door. Occasionally, fond memories return, of his family, his beloved wife June and their two children, Winnie and Joe. But when two former colleagues turn up at his door with questions about a decades-old case, one which Tom never quite came to terms with, he finds himself pulled into the darkest currents of his past.

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Study for Obedience by Sarah Bernstein

Try it, if you liked: Case Study by Graeme Macrae Burnet, We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson, or Madam by Phoebe Wynne.

Description: A young woman moves from the place of her birth to the remote northern country of her forebears to be housekeeper to her brother, whose wife has recently left him. She notices that the local suspicion about incomers in general seems to be directed with some intensity at her, and she senses a mounting threat that lies "just beyond the garden gate." And as she feels the hostility growing, pressing at the edges of her brother's property, she fears that, should the rumblings in the town gather themselves into a more defined shape, who knows what might happen, what one might be capable of doing.

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If I Survive You by Jonathan Escoffery

Try it, if you liked: Patsy by Nicole Dennis-Benn, Florida by Lauren Groff, or Calling for a Blanket Dance by Oscar Hokeah.

Description: Topper and Sanya flee to Miami as political violence consumes their native Kingston. But America, as the couple and their two children learn, is far from the promised land. Excluded from society as Black immigrants, the family pushes on first through Hurricane Andrew and later the 2008 recession, living in a house so cursed that the pet fish launches itself out of its own tank rather than stay. But even as things fall apart, the family remains motivated, often to its own detriment, by what their younger son, Trelawny, calls "the exquisite, racking compulsion to survive."

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How To Build a Boat by Elaine Feeney

Try it, if you liked: Big Girl, Small Town by Michelle Galan or The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon.

Description: Jamie O'Neill loves the colour red. He also loves tall trees, patterns, rain that comes with wind, the curvature of many objects, books with dust jackets, cats, rivers, and Edgar Allan Poe. At age 13, there are two things he especially wants in life: to build a Perpetual Motion Machine, and to connect with his mother, Noelle, who died when he was born. In his mind, these things are intimately linked. And at his new school, where all else is disorientating and overwhelming, he finds two people who might just be able to help him.

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This Other Eden by Paul Harding

Try it, if you liked: The Prophets by Robert Jones Jr., The Colony by Audrey Magee, or Moonrise Over New Jessup by Jamila Minnicks.

Description: In 1792, formerly enslaved Benjamin Honey and his Irish wife, Patience, discover an island where they can make a life together. Over a century later, the Honeys' descendants and a diverse group of neighbors are desperately poor, isolated, and often hungry, but nevertheless protected from the hostility awaiting them on the mainland. Matthew Diamond, a retired, idealistic but prejudiced schoolteacher-turned-missionary, disrupts the community's fragile balance through his efforts to educate its children. His presence attracts the attention of authorities on the mainland who, under the influence of the eugenics-thinking popular among progressives of the day, decide to forcibly evacuate the island, institutionalize its residents, and develop the island as a vacation destination.

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Pearl by Sian Hughes

Try it, if you liked: Butterfly Lampshade by Aimee Bender, Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng, or The Book of Form and Emptiness by Ruth Ozeki.

Description: Marianne is eight years old when her mother goes missing. Left behind with her baby brother and grieving father in a ramshackle house on the edge of a small village, she clings to the fragmented memories of her mother’s love. As time passes, Marianne struggles to adjust, fixated on her mother’s disappearance and the secrets she’s sure her father is keeping from her. Discovering a medieval poem called "Pearl" and trusting in its promise of consolation, Marianne sets out to make a visual illustration of it, a task that she returns to over and over but somehow never manages to complete.

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Western Lane by Chetna Maroo

Try it, if you liked: When We Were Sisters by Fatimah Asghar, Tell the Wolves I'm Home by Carol Rifka Brunt, or Carrie Soto Is Back by Taylor Jenkins Reid.

Description: After the death of her mother, 11-year-old Gopi, who has been playing squash since she was a small child, is enlisted in a quietly brutal training regimen by her father, and soon the game becomes her world as she slowly distances herself from her sisters in hopes of becoming the best.

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The Bee Sting by Paul Murray

Try it, if you liked: The Wangs vs. the World by Jade Chang, Here I Am by Jonathan Safran Foer, or Nuclear Family by Joseph Han.

Description: The Barnes family is in trouble. Dickie's once-lucrative car business is going under—but rather than face the music, he's spending his days in the woods, building an apocalypse-proof bunker with a renegade handyman. His wife Imelda is selling off her jewelry on eBay, while their teenage daughter Cass, formerly top of her class, seems determined to binge-drink her way through her final exams. And 12-year-old PJ is putting the final touches to his grand plan to run away from home. Where did it all go wrong?

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The House of Doors by Tan Twan Eng

Try it, if you liked: The Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro, Briefly, A Delicious Life by Nell Stevens, or Still Life by Sarah Winman.

Description: The year is 1921. Lesley Hamlyn and her husband, Robert, a lawyer and war veteran, are living at Cassowary House on the Straits Settlement of Penang. When "Willie" Somerset Maugham, a famed writer and old friend of Robert's, arrives for an extended visit with his secretary Gerald, the pair threatens a rift that could alter more lives than one.

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Librarian Kathy

About Kathy

Kathy is a Collection Management Librarian who loves reading, sharing, and talking about books. Her missions in life are to: create communities of readers, convince folks that her official title should be "Book Pusher," and refute that "disco" is a dirty word.