Our Favourite Booker Winners

The 2021 winner of the Booker Prize was finally announced last week and the winner was Damon Galgut with his gripping novel The Promise. The book follows a South African family across four decades, through the country's troubled transition from apartheid state to multi-racial democracy, and has been described as 'a complex, ambitious, brilliant work'. 

This got us talking in the Book Nook about what our favourite winners have been from Bookers past. Below is a list of ten of our favourites. There are plenty of varied titles in here, from Salman Rushdie’s Midnight’s Children, which won the prize back in 1981, through to the 2020 winner Shuggie Bain by Douglas Stuart.

Have you read them all? If you haven’t, all titles are available to order, either through our website, or in the shop.


Midnight's Children by Salman Rushdie

Midnight's Children also won the Best of the Booker Prize in 2008 to celebrate the Booker's 40th anniversary. It's an epic, magic-realist tale about Saleem Sinai, born at the stroke of midnight at the exact moment of India's independence. This coincidence of birth has consequences Saleem is not prepared for, however: telepathic powers connect him with 1,000 other 'midnight's children' all of whom are endowed with unusual gifts.

Inextricably linked to his nation, Saleem's story is a whirlwind of disasters and triumphs that mirrors the course of modern India at its most impossible and glorious.

Moon Tiger by Penelope Lively

Moon Tiger is a short, sweet, wonderful, heart-breaking story about a historian confronting her own, personal history, unearthing the passions and pains that have defined her life.

Claudia Hampton, a beautiful, famous writer, lies dying in hospital. But, as the nurses tend to her with quiet condescension, she is plotting her greatest work: 'a history of the world ... and in the process, my own'. Gradually she re-creates the rich mosaic of her life and times, conjuring up those she has known.

There is Gordon, her adored brother; Jasper, the charming, untrustworthy lover and father of Lisa, her cool, conventional daughter; and Tom, her one great love, found and then lost all too soon in wartime Egypt.

Possession by A.S. Byatt

Possession won the Booker Prize in 1990, and like many of the winners it's what you'd call a tour de force - literary, intellectual and complex, but still extremely entertaining and engaging. It's the tale of a pair of young scholars investigating the lives of two Victorian poets. Following a trail of letters, journals and poems they uncover a web of passion, deceit and tragedy, whose relationship begins to mirror their own. It's an exhilarating novel of wit and romance, at once a literary detective novel and a triumphant love story.

Life of Pi by Yann Martel

After the tragic sinking of a cargo ship, a solitary lifeboat remains bobbing on the wild, blue Pacific. The only survivors from the wreck are a sixteen-year-old boy named Pi, a hyena, a zebra (with a broken leg), a female orang-utan - and a 450-pound Royal Bengal tiger. The scene is set for one of the most extraordinary and best-loved works of fiction in recent years.

A death-defying sea adventure and a hilarious shaggy-dog story, this unapologetically twee saga is a convincing hands-on, how-to guide for dealing with what Pi calls "major lifeboat pests."

The Line of Beauty by Alan Hollinghurst

In the summer of 1983, twenty-year-old Nick Guest moves into an attic room in the Notting Hill home of the wealthy Feddens: Gerald, an ambitious Tory MP, his wife Rachel and their children Toby and Catherine. Innocent of politics and money, Nick is swept up into the Feddens' world and an era of endless possibility, all the while pursuing his own private obsession with beauty.

The Line of Beauty is Alan Hollinghurst's masterpiece. It is a novel that defines a decade, exploring with peerless style a young man's collision with his own desires, and with a world he can never truly belong to.

There is even a moment when Nick dances at a party with Margaret Thatcher, a scene that is both comic and surreal, but written with such skill that it also manages to be completely convincing.

Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel

The first in the epic series of historical novels to end all historical novels, Wolf Hall tells the story of Thomas Cromwell's rise to the upper echelons of the court of King Henry VIII. The book sealed Hilary Mantel’s reputation as one of Britain’s greatest living writers. Bursting with life and colour and peopled by complex, fully-realised characters, it’s impossible to imagine a more convincing and thoroughly immersive historical novel. By turns shocking, moving and grippingly paced, Mantel makes drawing out the complex machinations of the Tudor court seem an effortless, mesmerising dance.

Bring Up the Bodies by Hilary Mantel

The follow-up to Wolf Hall won the Booker Prize three years later in 2012. With the win Hilary Mantel became the first British author and the first woman to be awarded two Booker Prizes.

By 1535 Thomas Cromwell is Chief Minister to Henry VIII, his fortunes having risen with those of Anne Boleyn, the king's new wife. But Anne has failed to give the king an heir, and Cromwell watches as Henry falls for plain Jane Seymour. Cromwell must find a solution that will satisfy Henry, safeguard the nation and secure his own career. But neither minister nor king will emerge unscathed from the bloody theatre of Anne's final days.

An astounding literary accomplishment, Bring Up the Bodies continues the saga about a terrifying and tumultuous period in British history.

The Luminaries by Eleanor Catton

The Luminaries won the Booker in 2013, becoming, at 832 pages, the longest book to win the prize. Eleanor Catton also became the youngest winner at the age of 28. 

It is 1866, and Walter Moody has come to make his fortune upon the New Zealand goldfields. On arrival, he stumbles across a tense gathering of twelve local men, who have met in secret to discuss a series of unsolved crimes. A wealthy man has vanished, a whore has tried to end her life, and an enormous fortune has been discovered in the home of a luckless drunk. Moody is soon drawn into the mystery: a network of fates and fortunes that is as complex and exquisitely patterned as the night sky. The Luminaries is an extraordinary piece of fiction. It is full of narrative, linguistic and psychological pleasures, and has a fiendishly clever and original structuring device. Written in pitch-perfect historical register, richly evoking a mid-19th century world of shipping and banking and goldrush boom and bust, it is also a ghost story, and a gripping mystery. 

The Testaments by Margaret Atwood

Joint winner in 2019 alongside Bernadine Evaristo's Girl, Woman, Other, The Testaments is a follow-up to Margaret Atwood's classic The Handmaid's Tale. It also provided Atwood with her second Booker win, after The Blind Assassin in 2000.  

In this electrifying sequel we find the answer to the question that has tantalised readers for 33 years: What happened to Offred? Since 1985, Margaret Atwood's vision has only grown in significance, becoming a rallying call around the world. 

Effortlessly combining a piercing critique of gender, oppression and authoritarianism with the whip-smart pace of the purest literary thriller, The Testaments is devastating in its immediacy whilst remaining a timeless piece of faultless storytelling.

Shuggie Bain by Douglas Stuart

Douglas Stuart's 2020 winner, Shuggie Bain, lays bare the ruthlessness of poverty, the limits of love, and the hollowness of pride. 

It is 1981. Glasgow is dying and good families must grift to survive. Agnes Bain has always expected more from life. She dreams of greater things: a house with its own front door and a life bought and paid for outright (like her perfect, but false, teeth). But Agnes is abandoned by her philandering husband, and soon she and her three children find themselves trapped in a decimated mining town. As she descends deeper into drink, the children try their best to save her, yet one by one they must abandon her to save themselves. It is her son Shuggie who holds out hope the longest.

A counterpart to the privileged Thatcher-era London of Alan Hollinghurst's The Line of Beauty, it also recalls the work of Édouard Louis, Frank McCourt, and Hanya Yanagihara, a blistering debut by a brilliant writer with a powerful and important story to tell.


We have a range of all different books in store and online here are The Book Nook, from older titles to new ones out that month.

You can email us at info@booknookshop.co.uk, drop us a social media message or call us on 01920 467 597 during our opening hours: Tuesday to Saturday from 9:30am to 4:30pm and Sunday 10:30am to 2:30pm.​

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