The official Man Booker International Prize shortlist of six books was announced on Thursday:
I think this is an interesting selection with some very strong contrasts in genre and style. The shadow panel shortlist will be revealed at a later date as we have decided to allow ourselves a bit more time to finish reading the longlist and deliberate our views. You will have to wait until 9am UK time on Thursday 4th May to find out how many of our collective choices match those of the official judges… Continue reading
Bricks and Mortar by Clemens Meyer is the biggest of the big tomes on this year’s longlist and I have been reading it in between other books on the longlist over the last three weeks. For that reason, I’m not sure if I felt the full force of its power but as the book is so fragmented anyway, I don’t think I felt any more disorientated each time I picked it up again than I would have done if I had read it straight through without distractions. Translated from the German by Katy Derbyshire, it follows a variety of characters involved in the sex trade in an unnamed East German city from the end of the Cold War to the present day exploring the consequences of legalised prostitution, corruption, capitalism, and much much more. Each chapter explores a different character associated in some way with the industry and the chorus of unique voices effectively becomes a collection of interconnected short stories. At the centre of the story is Arnold Kraushaar and his rise “from football hooligan to large-scale landlord and service-provider for prostitutes”. Continue reading
My Man Booker International Prize shadowing duties continue with two more reviews this week. First up is War and Turpentine by Stefan Hertmans which has been translated from the Dutch by David McKay. Hertmans inherited his grandfather’s diaries after his death in 1981 and eventually used these personal memoirs to create a compelling narrative of his life as an ironworker, soldier and amateur painter. Born in 1891, the first part of the book focuses on Urbain Martien’s childhood in Ghent in a working class family with his father Franciscus and mother Céline. Hertmans also inserts himself into this part of the story as he unravels his family history in the present day. The second part is a more conventional narrative of Urbain’s experiences in the trenches following the German invasion of Belgium. The final part recounts the post-war years during which Martien sought solace in painting and a secret at the heart of his marriage to Gabrielle is revealed.
Out of all of the debut novels which have been published recently, ‘Spaceman of Bohemia’ by Jaroslav Kalfar has one of the most intriguing and original premises. Set in 2018, it tells the story of Jakub Procházka, a Czech astrophysicist turned astronaut on a solo mission to investigate a dust cloud between Earth and Venus and collect samples for analysis. However, his marriage to Lenka is under further strain as she is left behind on Earth and Jakub has plenty of time on his own to reflect on his family’s past. The appearance of a giant Nutella-loving alien spider called Hanuš who may or may not be a figment of Jakub’s imagination only complicates things further.
Here is our shadow panel response to the Man Booker International Prize longlist announced earlier this week (thanks to Tony for collating our initial thoughts):
The Shadow Panel for the 2017 Man Booker International Prize would like to extend its congratulations and thanks to the official judges for their hard work in whittling down the 126 entries to the thirteen titles making up the longlist. In some ways, it is a somewhat unexpected selection, with several surprising inclusions, albeit more in terms of the lack of fanfare the works have had than of their quality. However, it is another example of the depth of quality in fiction in translation, and it is heartening to see that there is such a wealth of wonderful books making it into our language which even devoted followers of world literature haven’t yet sampled. Of course, at this point we must also thank the fourteen translators who have made this all possible, and we will endeavour to highlight their work over the course of our journey.
The longlist for the Man Booker International Prize 2017 was announced today. The 13 books are:
- Compass by Mathias Énard (translated from the French by Charlotte Mandell)
- Swallowing Mercury by Wioletta Greg (translated from the Polish by Eliza Marciniak)
- A Horse Walks Into a Bar by David Grossman (translated from the Hebrew by Jessica Cohen)
- War and Turpentine by Stefan Hertmans (translated from the Dutch by David McKay)
- The Unseen by Roy Jacobsen (translated from the Norwegian by Don Bartlett and Don Shaw)
- The Traitor’s Niche by Ismail Kadare (translated from the Albanian by John Hodgson)
- Fish Have No Feet by Jón Kalman Stefánsson (translated from the Icelandic by Philip Roughton)
- The Explosion Chronicles by Yan Lianke (translated from the Chinese by Carlos Rojas)
- Black Moses by Alain Mabanckou (translated from the French by Helen Stevenson)
- Bricks and Mortar by Clemens Meyer (translated from the German by Katy Derbyshire)
- Mirror, Shoulder, Signal by Dorthe Nors (translated from the Danish by Misha Hoekstra)
- Judas by Amos Oz (translated from the Hebrew by Nicholas de Lange)
- Fever Dream by Samanta Schweblin (translated from the Spanish by Megan McDowell)
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. Continue reading