The Booker Prize

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Every year six DB Fellows each bind one of the six titles shortlisted for the Booker Prize for Fiction. Designed and completed in 4-5 weeks, these bindings are presented to the authors on the night of the Booker award ceremony.

  • by Diane Cook

    bound by Stuart Brockman

    Hand-marbled endleaves; gilt edges; laced-on cushioned boards; double multi-coloured endbands; covered in full chestnut goatskin; black goatskin and gilt Levant onlays; gold tooling and lettering; stainless steel fittings; housed in velvet-lined quarter-leather box, lettered in gold to the spine.

    The design depicts barbed wire separating the skyline of the City and the trees of The Wilderness. The colours for the binding and the onlays were chosen to reflect the nature and feel of the book. The use of pink in the endbands represent Agnes's pink bedroom in the City and the nail polish the girls use when the Newcomers arrive.
  • by Avni Doshi

    bound by Sue Doggett

    'There were so many starting points to explore creatively in this novel, it being so rich in imagery with very distinct themes and complex characters. As the basis of my design, I chose to work with the idea of opposition: Antara and Ma, fat and sugar, remembering and forgetting, tradition and freedom, loyalty and betrayal. There are suggestions of sweets and the colours of sweets (almond and pistachio), the chemical symbols for fats and sugars, the prevalence of mirrors, the fabrics that Antara finds in her mother's cupboard and the volatile and often distant relationships between the men and women in the novel. The embroidery is a form of drawing and references the ways in which Antara uses it, amongst other things, to try and understand her mother's dementia. The interior of the binding is white with some drawn marks which also refer to Antara's art practice.'

    The binding is full leather with machine embroidered imagery on spine and boards. Hand embroidered drawing in silk, cotton and rayon thread with embedded Shisha mirrors and leather onlays. Silk endbands and hand-painted flyleaves and board papers.
  • by Douglas Stuart (Winner)

    bound by Derek Hood & Kate Holland

    Full biscuit goatskin with multicoloured goatskin and faux shagreen inlays, hand tooled gold dots and title, all edges gilt, hand-sewn endbands, printed edge-to-edge paper doublures, gilding on endpaper.

    The main inspiration for the design is the Sighthill housing estate in Glasgow where we first meet Agnes and Shuggie, the pebbledash and blues and greys of the high-rise buildings, and on the top floor Agnes leans out of her window gazing down on the carpet of Glasgow. On the back cover elements of black and white for Shug with the red light of his receding taxi cab. Over both loom the colliery wheels of Pithead depicted by the myriad gold dots. Inside, Elizabeth Taylor, Agnes's heroine and touchstone, watches over a Sighthill walkway whilst a gilded beer can stain lies opposite.
  • The 2020 Booker Prize Bindings
    click images for details

  • by Brandon Taylor

    bound by Dominic Riley

    'I found this to be a beautifully wrought novel. Wallace is a young gay black man in a research position on a university campus, surrounded by 'benign' white colleagues, who, whilst being supportive, are also capable of casual prejudice and privilege. This behaviour can be stifling, and life is not easy for him. He carries out his research at the same time as he struggles with the difficult act of falling in love. It is not an easy journey.

    'I read the book twice, and tried to come up with an image that might capture the soul of the book. I hit upon the idea of snakes and ladders, a simple children's game that is supposed to be a metaphor for real life: a role of the dice and a bit of luck can be the thing that decides whether you will succeed or fail.

    'In America, of course, the game is called 'chutes and ladders', so I tried to make the design something that could mean both. A bit of my culture, and a bit of Brandon's.

    'I am so glad that I got this book to bind. As a gay man I identified with Wallace's journey, as, no matter how privileged we are, we all face prejudice from many quarters. I cried at the end (always the measure of a good story), and hope that many will not only enjoy but also be inspired by the story of our lovely Wallace.'

  • by Maaza Mengiste

    bound by Lori Sauer

    'I was very pleased to have this novel to bind. The story revolves around a core of vividly drawn characters and the roles they play in a pivotal point of Ethiopian history. There is tremendous weight and strength to the telling. The author fills the narrative with images of light and shade, of the brutality and cruelty of the time, but also of the courage and determination of a people.

    'I decided to use a crossed-structure binding as it provides a very stable and flowing movement for thick text-blocks. I did not want the usual weaving straps visible so opted to have a cover with fore-edge folds that return to the spine and hide the structure.

    'I wanted to use slate veneer (real stone) - it is strong with beautiful markings. I chose a pale eel skin for the spine, with its own unique character. I included suede flyleaves, exposing the reverse side of the suede that had mottled and subtle variations of colour. The overall thinking was to use shifts of light and shade and design motifs of flying/falling. The final design has inlaid paper strips, tooled gold dots and spattered gold. The edges are painted in real gold.'
  • by Tsitsi Dangarembga

    bound by Rachel Ward-Sale

    Bound in dyed natural leather using a double board construction.

    The yellow edges and flyleaves have been decorated with green stencilled leaves, based on the jacaranda trees mentioned in the book. Double-core endbands, sewn in multicoloured green silk threads match the edge decoration. Natural leather has been stippled with green dye for the spine and stencilled with leaf designs for the boards.

    Additional designs on the binding reflect events in the book which affect the main character, Tambudzai. Onlaid leather circles are coloured to match her state of min: red for the trauma of war, black for depression, blue for tears, purple and gold for her new lucrative job and grey for a final state of calm. The red line running around the book illustrates the tradition of burying a baby's umbilical cord on their homestead to tie them to their place of birth.

In the short period between shortlist announcement and the award ceremony, the binders must read, design and produce a hand bound fine binding, together with a protective container, for presentation to each of the authors. A process which might normally take three to four months or more has to be telescoped into as many weeks, but it is this which makes the commission such an interesting one for those taking part.

There are at least twenty-five stages in the hand binding of a book - from the decoration of the edges of the pages to the final lettering - and the binder will have spent about one hundred and fifty hours on the work by the time of completion. For those involved in this collaboration, the work is most rewarding; an opportunity to read and interpret some of the finest novels of our time, and, of course, it is hoped that the authors will derive as much pleasure from being presented with the finished results.


Designer Bookbinders