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The Booker Prize 2023 • Episode #153

The Booker Prize 2023: We read all six shortlisted books. Join us as we evaluate them and try to second-guess the Booker judges, before finding out the winner, and so keep listening for our hot take.

‘A novel is a mirror carried along a high road’ says Chair of the Booker judges Esi Edyugan, quoting Stendhal. ‘Year after year’, she continues, ‘the Booker Prize encourages us to take sight of ourselves in the lives of others, to slip for the length of a story into different skins, to grapple with unfamiliar worlds that allow us to see our own afresh.’

Too depressed to get to the end of Prophet Song by Paul Lynch? Baffled by the ending of The Bee Sting? Wondering what on earth was going on in Study for Obedience? Or thinking of taking up squash as a result of Chetna Maroo’s Western Lane? Considering whether to pick up This Other Eden by Paul Harding or to try If I Survive You by Jonathan Escoffery? This is the show for you. We won’t spoil the plots, we’ll just give you a sense of what we thought of them.

It may be the most downbeat shortlist in our collective memory, but the other thing they all have in common is being fantastic discussion books. Booker Prize 2023, we salute you.

Listen via the media player above, or your favourite podcast player with this podfollow link.

The Booker Prize 2023 shortlist

The Bee Sting by Paul Murray (audiobook narrated by Heather O’Sullivan, Barry Fitzgerald, Beau Holland, Ciaran O’Brien, Lisa Caruccio Came and published by Penguin Audio)

Prophet Song by Paul Lynch (audiobook narrated by Gerry O’Brien and published by Bolinda Audio @bolindaaudio @borrowbox)

If I Survive You by Jonathan Escoffery (audiobook narrated by Torian Brackett and published by Fourth Estate)

Western Lane by Chetna Maroo (audiobook narrated by Maya Saroya and published by Picador)

This Other Eden by Paul Harding (audiobook narrated by Eduardo Ballerini, and published by Penguin Audio)


Study for Obedience by Sarah Bernstein (narrated by Sarah Bernstein and published by Granta)


For a deep dive into the winner and all fifty-seven previous winners of The Booker Prize don’t miss Martin’s website On the Prize



1 Comment

  • fofi
    February 8, 2024 at 3:02 pm  - Reply

    omg Kate, I had exactly the same thoughts about this not ended “ending” of the Bee Sting. And because I listened to the audiobook (and not reading it), I started rewinding it, then fast-forwarding as I was sure I did something wrong and I jumped a chapter.
    Overall I loved the book and I was amazed with how well the author depicts not only adult characters but teenagers. It’s exactly what my 9 year-0ld nephew is playing with all day (yes, unfortunately he is addicted to social media like PJ).
    I loved the analysis from all of you.

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