Two Irish authors in running for this year’s Booker Prize

Irish authors Audrey Magee and Claire Keegan have been named on the long list for this year’s Booker Prize.

t 116 pages, Claire Keegan’s Small Things Like These is the shortest book recognised in the prize’s history. The shortest novel to win the award was Offshore by Penelope Fitzgerald (1979) at 132 pages. 


Small Things Like These by Claire Keegan

Ms Keegan was brought up on a farm in Co Wicklow and at the age of 17 she travelled to New Orleans, where she studied English and Political Science at Loyola University.

She returned to Ireland in 1992, and her highly acclaimed first volume of short stories – Antarctica – was published in 1999. Her first novel, Foster, won the 2009 Davy Byrnes Irish Writing Award and was named by the Times as one of the top 50 novels to be published in the 21st Century.

Small Things Like These has been described as a “ both a celebration of compassion and a stern rebuke of the sins committed in the name of religion”. 

Set in 1985 in Irish town during the weeks leading up to Christmas, the novel tells the story of Bill Furlong, a coal and timber merchant, as he faces his busiest season.


The Colony by Audrey Magee

Fellow Wicklow native Audrey Magee has been nominated for her novel, The Colony, which details the experience of two men, from France and England, who travel to an island off the west coast of Ireland to “encapsulate the truth of this place – one in his paintings, the other with his faithful rendition of its speech, the language he hopes to preserve”.

However, the people on the island have their own views on what is being recorded. 

For twelve years, Audrey Magee worked as a journalist writing for, among others, the Irish Times, the Observer and the Guardian. Her first novel, The Undertaking, was short-listed for the Women’s Prize for Fiction, for France’s PRIX du Premier Roman and for the Irish Book Awards. It was also nominated for the Dublin Literary Award and the Walter Scott Prize for Historical Fiction.

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This year’s Booker Prize selection was made from 169 novels published between 1 October 2021 and 30 September 2022 and submitted to the prize by publishers.

The long list features the youngest and oldest author ever to be included, with 20-year-old Leila Mottley and octogenarian Alan Garner, who will celebrate his 88th birthday on the night of the winner ceremony.

Three debut novelists Maddie Mortimer, Leila Mottley and Selby Wynn Schwartz have made the list, while previously shortlisted authors NoViolet Bulawayo, Karen Joy Fowler and Graeme Macrae Burnet, and previously long listed Elizabeth Strout are also recognised.

Chair of the 2022 judging panel Neil McGregor said: “The list offers story, fable and parable, fantasy, mystery, meditation and thriller.

“The skill with which writers shape and sustain those variously imagined worlds, and allow others to inhabit them, has been our main criterion in proposing this long list of 13 books. Exceptionally well written and carefully crafted, in whatever genre, they seem to us to exploit and expand what the language can do. The list that we have selected offers story, fable and parable, fantasy, mystery, meditation and thriller.”

The Booker Prize is open to works by writers of any nationality, written in English and published in the UK or Ireland.

The 2022 long list consists of includes: 

  • NoViolet Bulawayo (Zimbabwean) Glory 
  • Hernan Diaz (American) Trust 
  • Percival Everett (American) The Trees 
  • Karen Joy Fowler (American) Booth 
  • Alan Garner (British) Treacle Walker
  • Shehan Karunatilaka (Sri Lankan) The Seven Moons of Maali Almeida 
  • Claire Keegan (Irish) Small Things Like These 
  • Graeme Macrae Burnet (British) Case Study 
  • Audrey Magee (Irish) The Colony 
  • Maddie Mortimer (British) Maps of our Spectacular Bodies
  • Leila Mottley (American) Nightcrawling 
  • Selby Wynn Schwartz (American) After Sappho 
  • Elizabeth Strout (American) Oh William!

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