Hay Festival reveals Book of the Year 2022

Lessons in Chemistry, the debut novel by Bonnie Garmus, has been named Hay Festival Book of the Year 2022 after hundreds of book lovers nominated their favourite titles of the year online.

A 1960s-set story of an unconventional female scientist with a quiet game-plan to change the world, Lessons in Chemistry was shortlisted for the inaugural Waterstones Debut Fiction Prize 2022 and widely praised for its warmth, sparkling humour and endearing characters.

It is the debut novel from Bonnie Garmus. Born in California and now based in London, Garmus built her career as a copywriter and creative director working extensively in the fields of technology, medicine, and education, before rocketing into the literary scene at the age of 64.

Hay Festival CEO Julie Finch said: “At the end of every year, we ask the Hay Festival audience which books they couldn’t put down. The results are always varied and engaging, offering a snapshot of the year’s most impactful fiction, non-fiction and poetry. In 2022, one title came up again and again from readers: Bonnie Garmus’ Lessons in Chemistry, a fun, entertaining and important debut. It was a bestseller at our spring event, and we are delighted to celebrate it as the Hay Festival Book of the Year 2022.”

Listen again to Garmus’ Hay Festival 2022 event on Lessons in Chemistry on Hay Festival Anytime now here

Past wins of the Hay Festival Book of the Year have been Deborah Levy’s Real Estate (2021), Dara McAnulty’s Diary of a Young Naturalist (2020), Hallie Rubenhold’s The Five (2019), Sarah-Jayne Blakemore’s Inventing Ourselves (2018) and Jackie Morris and Robert Macfarlane’s The Lost Words (2017).

The announcement comes on the eve of Hay Festival Winter Weekend, which is back for a year-end wonderland of in-person events, 24-27 November, in multiple venues across Hay-on-Wye, Wales.

Over four days, more than 70 acclaimed writers and performers take part in 52 events, launching the best new fiction and non-fiction, engaging with some of the biggest issues of our time, and spreading festive joy with conversations, candle-lit storytelling, film screenings, comedy, music and workshops.

Now in its 23rd year, the Festival’s in-person events will take place in Hay Castle’s Great Hall and Clore Learning Space, alongside spaces throughout the booktown of Hay-on-Wye, including St Mary’s Church, The Poetry Bookshop and Richard Booth’s Bookshop Cinema. More intimate than the spring edition, Hay Festival Winter Weekend sees the Welsh booktown’s independent shops, cafés and attractions offer a warm welcome to Festivalgoers within the stunning surrounds of the Brecon Beacons.

For audiences unable to attend in person, select events will be livestreamed at hayfestival.org/winter-weekend with Online Festival Passes on sale now. Meanwhile, all events will be available on the Hay Festival Anytime video platform afterwards at hayfestival.org/anytime.

Hay Festival Winter Weekend is supported by lead sponsors Visit Wales and Baillie Gifford.

Explore the full Hay Festival Winter Weekend programme.