The longlist for the Man Booker International Prize is due to be announced on Wednesday 15th March. I am on the shadow panel again this year and have been thinking about which books could make the cut.
The pool of fiction in translation published in the UK is smaller than the huge number of books which are eligible for awards like the Man Booker Prize and Baileys Women’s Prize for Fiction. However, thanks to consistent championing by booksellers, bloggers and publishers helping to steadily raise the profile of translated fiction, it doesn’t actually make the predictions easier (which is ultimately a good thing, of course). I also have no knowledge of which books have actually been submitted for consideration so my choices are purely speculative.
As with my other predictions posts, I have been considering books in terms of my personal preferences alongside other possibilities. Based on what I have read over the past few months, I have five stand-out preferences which I would like to see on the longlist.
The End of Eddy by Edouard Louis (translated from the French by Michael Lucey) – this powerful autobiographical novel explores social exclusion in modern France and follows the story of a gay teenager living in a village in Picardy.
The Accusation by Bandi (translated from the Korean by Deborah Smith) – as well as novels, short story collections are also eligible for the MBIP and I think this collection by a pseudonymous North Korean author stands a very good chance of being longlisted. It’s also notable that Deborah Smith won the MBIP last year for her translation of The Vegetarian by Han Kang.
Fever Dream by Samanta Schweblin (translated from the Spanish by Megan McDowell) – this Argentinian novella is weird, unsettling and definitely not for everyone, but I wonder if its small independent publisher Oneworld can continue its prizewinning streak following two consecutive Man Booker Prize wins for ‘The Sellout’ by Paul Beatty in 2016 and ‘A Brief History of Seven Killings’ by Marlon James in 2015.
The Bird Tribunal by Agnes Ravatn (translated from the Norwegian by Rosie Hedger) – I really enjoyed this atmospheric and tense literary thriller. It’s a memorable and ambiguous slow-burner which has been a word-of-mouth success.
The Nakano Thrift Shop by Hiromi Kawakami (translated from the Japanese by Allison Markin Powell) – this was one of my Women in Translation Month reads last August. Like Strange Weather in Tokyo which was shortlisted for the IFFP in 2014, it is a surreal tale about the owner and employees working in a second-hand goods shop. I have yet to read Kawakami’s recently published collection ‘Record of a Night Too Brief’ translated by Lucy North which could also be in the running.
Other eligible books I have read in recent months:
Peirene Press may put forward Her Father’s Daughter by Marie Sizun (translated from the French by Adriana Hunter) which is a very affecting portrayal of a young girl whose father returns to France after being held prisoner during the Second World War. I have yet to read ‘The Empress and the Cake’ by Linda Stift (translated from the Austrian German by Jamie Bulloch) which is also eligible. Peirene Press has had a book longlisted or shortlisted for the IFFP or MBIP every year since 2011 so there’s a reasonable chance either of these titles could be recognised.
The Winterlings by Cristina Sánchez-Andrade (translated from the Spanish by Sam Rutter) and Cry, Mother Spain by Lydia Salvayre (translated from the French by Ben Faccini) both address the Spanish Civil War in original ways.
Authors and translators from last year’s MBIP longlist could make it a second year running. I enjoyed reading but have not yet reviewed The Tobacconist by Robert Seethaler (translated from the German by Charlotte Collins) while translations of ‘The Explosion Chronicles’ by Yan Lianke and ‘Beauty is a Wound’ by Eka Kurniawan have also recently been published.
More eligible books which I have yet to read:
The Transmigration of Bodies by Yuri Herrera (translated from the Spanish by Lisa Dillman) – I have read but not yet reviewed ‘Signs Preceding the End of the World’ by the same author and translator which was my first foray into Mexican fiction and won the Best Translated Book Award last year. Herrera’s second book to be translated into English is said to be similarly short, sharp and violent.
Moonstone: The Boy Who Never Was by Sjón (translated from the Icelandic by Victoria Cribb) – I have read some very strong reviews of this novella about a gay teenager living in Reykjavik during a Spanish flu outbreak shortly before Iceland became independent in 1918.
Ties by Domenico Starnone (translated from the Italian by Jhumpa Lahiri) – ‘Ties’ is said to be a response to ‘The Days of Abandonment’ by Elena Ferrante which is especially significant given that Starnone’s wife is said to be the pseudonymous author. Lahiri has previously been shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize and her work as a translator since relocating to Rome could be recognised by its sister prize.
I’m conscious that my choices lean quite heavily towards European fiction whereas I hope the actual longlist is more geographically diverse. Which books would you like to see on the longlist this year?
19 responses to “The Man Booker International Prize 2017: Longlist Predictions”
Great list! I’d love to see the Seethaler, Sjón, Kawakami, Sizun and Starnone on the list. All very fine books.
Thanks! Sounds like we have a lot of overlap on our wishlists 🙂
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Some great suggestions. I’ve read The End of Eddy and Fever Dream and think both are likely. I’ve also read The Bird Tribunal but wonder if it might be a little too ‘genre’. Her Father’s Daughter is also worth a place, as is The Transmigration of Bodies.
I’d like to see Beauty is a Wound there. Fever Dream is the other I think has to be there.
Thanks! Yes, I can see the ‘genre’ issue with The Bird Tribunal but I am hopeful that it could still have a chance. I think a lot of people would be surprised if Fever Dream wasn’t there.
I’ve been disappointed in some of the picks the last few years – hope this year is better. I enjoyed reading The Bird Tribunal too – think it was you who turned me on to it , so thanks.
I will look for The Ties – fascinating background.
Excellent, glad you enjoyed it! Yes, I only recently heard about Ties – it is one I will read eventually whether or not it is longlisted.
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The Kawakami is the only one of yours I’ve read – loved it. I also loved 33 Revolutions by Canek Sanchez Guevara. I’m guessing that Zambra’s Multiple Choice might appear, although I didn’t particularly enjoy it. The End of Eddy’s on my pile, and a sure cert for longlisting IMHO! Are books like French Rhapsody by Antoine Laurain too light? It was brilliant and very state of the nation…
Yes, The End of Eddy is one of the strongest possibilities along with Fever Dream. Laurain might be considered too light by most but still technically eligible, I think.
Oh no! I haven’t read so many of the ones you mentioned. Love the list though. Winterlings is high on my TBR
Thanks, I feel like there is still lots more to discover so I’m looking forward to finding out what’s on the actual longlist 🙂
I hope The Winterlings and Moonstone are there – I’ve reviewed them both, and also Beauty is a Wound and The Explosion Chronicles too. I’m not so bothered about the geographical diversity of authors, but I’d like to see something set in India and the Middle East…
Yes, I think last year’s longlist had quite a good spread apart from the absence of Spanish language authors so it will be interesting to see if that happens again this year.
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Lots of good choices here, some I’ve read, some not. Just finished ‘Ties’, and I can’t say that I’m expecting it to be on the list – very much profiting from the Ferrante ties (see what I did there?) with a lesser book. It’s a shame there aren’t more of these posts as the wider the range of ideas, the more obvious the overlap becomes (and the clearer the possible longlist becomes!).
Oh no, that’s disappointing to hear about Ties. It will be interesting to see whose predictions are the closest match to the actual longlist – not long to go now!
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You were spot on with Fever Dream! From the other books you’ve mentioned here, I’d really like to read The Nakano Thrift Shop, as I enjoyed the author’s previous book so much. Love Japanese literature!
I’m hoping Fever Dream will be on the shortlist too!
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