Oct 18, 2022
Shehan Karunatilaka has won the 2022 Booker Prize for his novel The Seven Moons of Maalia Almeida.
Colombo, 1990. Maali Almeida--war photographer, gambler, and closet queen--has woken up dead in what seems like a celestial visa office. His dismembered body is sinking in the serene Beira Lake and he has no idea who killed him. In a country where scores are settled by death squads, suicide bombers, and hired goons, the list of suspects is depressingly long, as the ghouls and ghosts with grudges who cluster round can attest. But even in the afterlife, time is running out for Maali. He has seven moons to contact the man and woman he loves most and lead them to the photos that will rock Sri Lanka.
Judges for this year's panel discussed why this book took the top prize and why readers love this work:
"This is a metaphysical thriller, an afterlife noir that dissolves the boundaries not just of different genres, but of life and death, body and spirit, east and west. It is an entirely serious philosophical romp that takes the reader to ’the world’s dark heart’ — the murderous horrors of civil war Sri Lanka. And once there, the reader also discovers the tenderness and beauty, the love and loyalty, and the pursuit of an ideal that justify every human life."
"The exhilarating energy with which we’re plunged into a rich and darkly comic world. This is Sri Lankan history as whodunnit, thriller, and existential fable teeming with the bolshiest of spirits. ‘You have one response for those who believe Colombo to be overcrowded: wait till you see it with ghosts."
Do you enjoy reading many different genres? Then you're in a for a treat. Reviews for The Seven Moons of Maalia Almeida highlight the use of genres and the skill of Karunatilaka's writing:
"There can't be many novels that simultaneously bring to mind Agatha Christie, Salman Rushdie, Raymond Chandler, John le Carré and Stranger Things --but this one does... Karunatilaka respects the conventions of all the genres that he piles up so extravagantly... The result is an unexpectedly exhilarating read. --James Walton, Times [UK]"
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Find the recent blog about the Booker shortlist, along with details about The Scotiabank Giller Prize and The Atwood Gibson Writers' Trust Fiction Prize, and let us know what stories you fell in love with! We'll share blogs on the winning titles following their respective galas - November 2, 2022 for the Writers' Trust and November 7th for the Giller.