It has just been announced that the first winner of this year’s reconfigured Man Booker International Prize is The Vegetarian by Han Kang translated from the Korean by Deborah Smith. A very well deserved win for one of the most startlingly original and surreal works of translated fiction I’ve read this year. Many congratulations to them both!
Myself and my fellow shadow panel members also voted for our winner last week from our own shortlist consisting of Ferrante, Lianke, NDiaye, Oe, Kang and de Kerangal. It was a close run thing between ‘The Vegetarian’ and Death by Water by Kenzaburo Oe in the run-off vote but ‘The Vegetarian’ also came out top in the end, meaning that we are in agreement with the real judging panel for the second year in a row (last year, we selected The End of Days by Jenny Erpenbeck as our winner for the now-defunct Independent Foreign Fiction Prize). While ‘Death by Water’ had its devoted fans amongst our group, ‘The Vegetarian’ had wider support in both the longlist and shortlist stages and also featured in many of our early prediction lists before the longlist was even announced. Continue reading
The official shortlist for the Man Booker International Prize was announced on Thursday. The six books are:
Longlisted for the Man Booker International Prize, ‘The Vegetarian’ by Han Kang and translated from the Korean by Deborah Smith tells the story of Yeong-hye who suddenly declares she will no longer eat meat after having a disturbing dream. Originally published as separate “novelettes”, the three parts of the story are told from the point of view of her husband, brother-in-law and sister respectively who are all outraged by her decision to become a vegetarian in a society where refusing to eat meat is extremely rare. Continue reading
As well as all the books I missed in 2015 and want to catch up on, there are lots of new books to look forward to in 2016. Here is a selection I will be keeping my eye out for this year:
I‘m looking forward to reading The Noise of Time by Julian Barnes, an author who can always be relied upon to write about something completely different every time he publishes a new book. His latest novel, his first since The Sense of an Ending which won the Man Booker Prize in 2011, is based on the life of Dmitri Shostakovich.
The Muse by Jessie Burton will be out in the summer. I thought The Miniaturist was an enjoyable piece of historical literary fiction but a bit on the light side whereas her second novel looks like it’s going to be more ambitious in terms of content. Set in 1930s Spain and 1960s London, it tells the story of a painting which connects a Caribbean migrant and a bohemian artist.
This Must Be The Place by Maggie O’Farrell will be published in May. I’ve enjoyed all of her novels, particularly The Hand That First Held Mine and I’m looking forward to her seventh novel about an American professor living in Ireland who has a secret which threatens to destroy his idyllic life in the countryside.
‘After Me Comes the Flood’ is a 50p charity shop bargain I haven’t read yet but I’m hoping to read both that as well as The Essex Serpent by Sarah Perry this year. Her second novel is set in Victorian London and Essex and tells the story of a unique relationship between a widow and a vicar. Continue reading