-By Emma Bilsborough, Retail Team Leader

The winner of this year's Man Booker Prize was announced this week on the 16th of October, and it went, quite surprisingly, to the brilliant 'Milkman' by Anna Burns.

Each year the Man Booker Prize brings us a longlist of nominees that we try to read in time for the winner announcement (and, if you're like me, generally never make it through the list). This year's list was filled with talent, from the likes of Daisy Johnson's 'Everything Under', to Michael Ondaatje's 'Warlight'.

This year also marks the 50th anniversary of the prize, which began in 1968, then named the Booker-McConnell prize. It was first awarded in 1969, to P.H. Newby for his novel 'Something to Answer For'.

I decided to look back at the shortlisted and winning books from the last 50 years (of which there are many), and choose my top ten favourites. Buckle in, everyone!

man bookert

10. On Chesil Beach, Ian McEwan (Shortlisted, 2007)

chesil beach

Ian McEwan has been nominated for the Booker prize multiple times, but my favourite of his is On Chesil Beach. Short, bittersweet and beautifully written, it had to make the top ten.

9. The Line of Beauty, Alan Hollinghurst (Winner, 2004)

line of beauty

Alan Hollinghurst's spectacular novel, The Line of Beauty, won the Booker prize in 2004, and rightfully so. It's politically charged, well formatted, and a unique and interesting take on upper class society and homosexuality.

8. Everything Under, Daisy Johnson (Shortlisted, 2018)

everything under

Shortlisted for this year's prize and the favourite to win, Daisy Johnson is the youngest nominee the prize has had so far, at age 27. Her first novel, Everything Under, is a feminist retelling of the Oedipus myth.

7. The God of Small Things, Arundhati Roy (Winner, 1997)

god of small things

It's hard to try to summarise this novel, but the reputation it has built and the recognition it has gained should be enough to tempt you, and Roy's work as a political activist and advocate for change in India should encourage you further.

6. On Beauty, Zadie Smith (Shortlisted, 2005)

on beauty

Zadie Smith is spectacular in so many ways, and her writing is just one of those. On Beauty is a homage to Howard's End by E M Forster, with a few notable parallels. A must read!

5. We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves, Karen Joy Fowler (Shortlisted, 2014)

we are all

Karen Joy Fowler first brought us the wonderful Jane Austen Book Club, and much of the heart that was in that novel can be found in this too. The story of family, of loss, of guilt, of friendships and relationships. It is entirely unique, heartwarming whilst also being heartbreaking.

4. The Sense of an Ending, Julian Barnes (Winner, 2011)

sense of an ending

Julian Barnes is a prolific and talented writer, and The Sense of an Ending is his 11th novel. It's a very simple plot, but is one of those existential novels that make you question your choices and your future.

3. Alias Grace, Margaret Atwood (Shortlisted, 1996)

alias grace

Margaret Atwood is one of the Greats, a talent unlike most. Her commentary on real-life events and the feminist undertones to all of her novels are what make her work so brilliant. Alias Grace is a story that has grown from a real-life murder case in the 1800s.

2. Never Let Me Go, Kazuo Ishiguro (Shortlisted, 2005)

never let me go

The success of dystopian fiction over the last few years has been paramount, and it's no coincidence that our top two both fall into that category. Perhaps it's because we feel closer everyday to the universes created in these novels. Perhaps it's just because they're really incredible to read. Never Let Me Go is moving, emotive, and impossible to put down.

1. Cloud Atlas, David Mitchell (Shortlisted, 2004)

cloud atlas

And our number one is the brilliant and mind-blowing Cloud Atlas. The same story across centuries, and there's all these brilliant links that carry you through the years. Each story is written in a different style, with different characters, yet you feel the strength of the connection between them. Admittedly, I watched the movie before reading the book (I didn't know! I'm sorry!), but both are equally great.

So there you have it! My list of top ten Booker Prize winners/shortlisted authors. If there's one or more on this list you haven't read, then please take this list as a list of recommendations and dive in. Equally, let us know your favourites from the last 50 years of the Booker Prize - we love reading recs!


To buy any of these books from us, please get in touch by emailing us at bookbarn@bookbarninternational.com or giving us a call on 01761 451777.