Booker Prize announces reader competition to name trophy

The Booker Prize has launched a competition to name the trophy given to the winner of the renowned literary award.

In news exclusively shared with The Independent, the Booker Prize Foundation has invited readers to submit suggestions for the trophy’s official title, drawing upon inspiration from the Prize’s history.

The statuette – designed in 1969 by Meg and Mog illustrator Jan Pieńkowski – depicts a female figure holding a bowl above her head.

While the practice of awarding this art-deco-inspired trophy fell away for many years, it was reinstated in 2022 after Pieńkowski’s death and was given to last year’s winner, Shehan Karunatilaka.

Though the original award was pewter-coloured, the statuette’s design has now changed to gold after inspiration from its first winner, PH Newby, for the novel Something to Answer For.

The author’s wife disliked the colour of the statuette, so she spray-painted it gold.

Ahead of the trophy coming back into the prize-giving process in 2022, Newby’s original model was tracked down, scanned and 3D-printed by Adam Lowe’s Madrid-based Factum Foundation.

The figure now stands at 38cm high, as opposed to its original height of two feet (60.1cm), and is cast in brass as a nod to Mrs Newby’s innovation.

As well as being part of the Booker Prize’s legacy, the winner will also receive prizes from The Folio Society and Montegrappa worth more than £700.

Shehan Karunatilaka, the 2022 Booker Prize winner for his novel ‘The Seven Moons of Maali Almeida’ (Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved)
Shehan Karunatilaka, the 2022 Booker Prize winner for his novel ‘The Seven Moons of Maali Almeida’ (Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved)

After entrants submit suggestions by Friday 27 January, a judging panel will select a shortlist of six names, and then ask the public to pick the final title via the Booker Prizes website.

The winner will be the person who nominated the chosen name. Should the final name be the suggestion of more than one person, the winner will be selected at random from those entrants.

Gaby Wood, director of the Booker Prize Foundation, spoke of her enthusiasm for the future of the trophy.

“She will, we hope, come to stand not only for the triumph of a single winner but for the aims of the Booker Prize Foundation as a whole: to change lives and expand minds through the pleasures of reading,” Wood said in a statement.

“Once she has a name, she can be a beacon, lighting the way to the world’s best literature. We’d like readers everywhere to be part of that.”

Wood sits on the panel of shortlist judges, along with Shehan Karunatilaka, last year’s Booker Prize winner for his novel The Seven Moons of Maali Almeida; Margaret Busby, Britain’s first black female publisher and Chair of the Booker Prize 2022 judges; Gabriel Schenk, PH Newby’s grandson; and David Walser, partner and frequent collaborator of the late Jan Pieńkowski.

A shortlist of six names will be announced on the Booker Prizes website on Wednesday 8 February.

After a public vote, the competition winner will be announced on Thursday 23 February.