MacGregor, Bari and Mabanckou named Booker Prize judges

MacGregor, Bari and Mabanckou named Booker Prize judges

The 2022 Booker Prize judging panel will be chaired by writer and broadcaster Neil MacGregor (pictured) and features academic and broadcaster Shahidha Bari and historian Helen Castor.

Goldsmith Prize-winning novelist M John Harrison and writer Alain Mabanckou, who has been shortlisted for the International Booker twice, will also join the panel for next year's £50,000 prize, with submissions opening today (11th January).

Gaby Wood, literary director of the Booker Prize Foundation, said: "It is perhaps a little easy to forget that both Booker Prizes are international. As we’ve seen in the submissions for the Booker Prize year after year, the English language has been hugely enriched by a global sensibility – whether it’s a winning London novelist influenced by a Māori author, a Turk writing in English under the star of James Baldwin or Scots dialect first published in New York. And the prize has a global impact: the shortlistees and winners are celebrated all over the world.

"This year’s panel is composed of superb readers who have an innate understanding of that global scope, yet are steeped in the history and literature of Britain. They are experts in the porous boundaries of genre, and in the exchange of literary traditions. I can’t wait to see what they recommend."

MacGregor is a British cultural historian and was previously director of the National Gallery in London. During his tenure there he fought to maintain free public access to great paintings and made a number of BBC television series touching on works in the collection. His book, Seeing Salvation: Images of Christ in Art (Yale University Press) was published in 2000.

He left the National Gallery in 2002 to become director of the British Museum, where he remained until 2015. In that time, he wrote and presented several influential books and series for BBC Radio 4. At the end of 2021 he held the Chaire du Louvre at the Musée du Louvre in Paris, giving a series of public lectures about museums and their constantly changing relation to history and society. 

MacGregor said: "Over the last year, as book sales surged, Joan Didion’s words were shown to be truer than ever: 'We tell ourselves stories in order to live'. A large part of the world now writes and reads those necessary stories, about who we are and who we might become, in English: so to be asked to survey this year’s harvest for the Booker Prize is to be invited to inhabit many different universes. And it is a great privilege to be asked to do so in the company of such distinguished judges, who themselves write — in a rich range of traditions — about worlds real and imagined."

The panel will be looking for the best work of long-form fiction, selected from entries published in the UK and Ireland between 1st October 2021 and 30th September 2022.

The "Booker Dozen" of 12 or 13 books will be announced in July 2022 with the shortlist of six books to follow in September. The winner of the £50,000 prize will be announced in November 2022.

The 2021 winner was The Promise by Damon Galgut. The morning after the announcement, the book was number one on Amazon’s bestseller chart. Two weeks after the win, Chatto & Windus announced that it had reprinted 153,000 copies, having sold 23,878 copies in hardback, 14,622 of which sold in the two weeks following the news, a 1,925% jump in volume compared with the previous two weeks.