Man Booker International: Some great novels – but none from Africa

man booker int 2018Article: Vivien Horler

Africa did not make the cut on the longlist of the Man Booker International Prize this year.

The Man Booker Prize is awarded for the best fiction written in English; the Man Booker International Prize celebrates the best novels – or collections of short stories – from around the world that have been translated into English and published in the UK.

This year the longlist comprises books translated from 10 languages across Europe, Asia, South America and the Middle East.

It’s a lucrative prize – £50 000 (about R1.3 million) for the winning book, which is divided between the author and the translator. Each shortlisted author and translator will win £1 000 each.

The judges considered 108 books.

Previous winners Han Kang (2016) and László Krasznahorkai (2015) are both on the longlist.

Frank Wynne has two translations on the list: one from French and one from Spanish.

Korean writer Han’s novel The White Book is about the grief prompted by the death of her sister who died just two hours after being born. Her winning novel in 2016 was The Vegetarian.

The Hungarian writer, Krasznahorkai, who many believe should win the Nobel Prize for literature, is on the list thanks to his novel The World Goes On, a series of stories. His novel about a weird circus, The Melancholy of Resistance, won in 2015.

Author Lisa Appignanesi, OBE, chair of the 2018 Man Booker International Prize judging panel, said the judging experience had been an exhilarating adventure”.

“It’s a cornucopia of a list – greats people will recognise and some newcomers.

“Every time you pick up a book you’re not only in a different geographical location but in a different form of cultural imagination with a whole different set of traditions to take on board, and that in itself is exhilarating.

“We have travelled across countries, cultures, imaginations, somehow to arrive at what could have been an even longer longlist. It’s one which introduces a wealth of talent, a variety of forms and some writers little known in English before.

“It has great writing and translating energy and we hope readers take as much pleasure in discovering the work as we did.”

The shortlist of six books will be announced on April 12, and the 2018 prizewinner will be named on May 22 at the Victoria & Albert Museum in London.

The full longlist is:

  • Laurent Binet (France), translator Sam Taylor, The 7th Function of Language(Harvill Secker).
  • Javier Cercas (Spain), translator Frank Wynne, The Impostor(MacLehose Press).
  • Virginie Despentes (France), translator Frank Wynne, Vernon Subutex 1(MacLehose Press).
  • Jenny Erpenbeck (Germany), translator Susan Bernofsky, Go, Went, Gone(Portobello Books).
  • Han Kang (South Korea), translator Deborah Smith, The White Book (Portobello Books).
  • Ariana Harwicz (Argentina), translators Sarah Moses and Carolina Orloff, Die, My Love(Charco Press).
  • László Krasznahorkai (Hungary), translators John Batki, Ottilie Mulzet and George Szirtes, The World Goes On(Tuskar Rock Press).
  • Antonio Muñoz Molina (Spain), translator Camilo A. Ramirez, Like a Fading Shadow(Tuskar Rock Press).
  • Christoph Ransmayr (Austria), translator Simon Pare, The Flying Mountain(Seagull Books).
  • Ahmed Saadawi (Iraq), translator Jonathan Wright, Frankenstein in Baghdad(Oneworld).
  • Olga Tokarczuk (Poland), translator Jennifer Croft,Flights(Fitzcarraldo Editions).
  • Wu Ming-Yi (Taiwan), translator Darryl Sterk, The Stolen Bicycle(Text Publishing).
  • Gabriela Ybarra (Spain), translator Natasha Wimmer, The Dinner Guest(Harvill Secker).man booker shortlist

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