The 13 novels which have been longlisted for 2017′s Man Booker International Prize have been announced.
An extension of the Man Booker Prize, which launched in 1969 and aims to promote exceptional fiction by rewarding the best novel of the year written in English and published in the United Kingdom, the Man Booker International Prize was established in 2005.
From 2005 to 2015 the Man Booker International Prize’s aim was to focus on one writer’s overall contribution to fiction on the global literary stage. Worth £60,000, the prize was awarded every two years to a living author who published fiction either originally in English or whose work was generally available in translation in English.
On 7 July 2015, the Booker Prize Foundation announced that the Man Booker International Prize was to evolve from 2016 to a prize for fiction in translation and join forces with the Independent Foreign Fiction Prize.
The newly evolved prize is awarded annually for a single work of fiction, translated into English and published in the UK, rather than every two years for a writer’s entire body of work. Both novels and collections of short stories are eligible.
The symmetrical relationship with the Man Booker Prize ensures that ‘the Man Booker’ can now honour fiction at its finest on a truly international basis.
The press release, composed by Alice Furse of Four Communications, reads:
The longlist was selected by a panel of five judges, chaired by Nick Barley, Director of the Edinburgh International Book Festival, and consisting of: Daniel Hahn, an award-winning writer, editor and translator; Elif Shafak, a prize-winning novelist and one of the most widely read writers in Turkey; Chika Unigwe, author of four novels including On Black Sisters’ Street; and Helen Mort, a poet who has been shortlisted for the T.S. Eliot Prize and the Costa Prize, and has won a Foyle Young Poets of the Year Award five times. Nick Barley, chair of the 2017 Man Booker International Prize judging panel, says:
“It’s been an exceptionally strong year for translated fiction. Our longlist consists of books that are compulsively readable and ferociously intelligent. From powerful depictions and shocking exposés of historical and contemporary horrors to intimate and compelling portraits of people going about their daily lives, our longlisted books are above all breathtakingly well-written. Fiction in translation is flourishing: in these times when walls are being built, this explosion of brilliant ideas from around the world arriving into the English language feels more important than ever.”
The shortlist of six books will be announced on 20 April and the winner of the 2017 prize will be announced on 14 June at a formal dinner at the Victoria & Albert Museum in London.
The author, translator, and title of the novel, as decided upon by the panel, are as follow:
Mathias Enard (France), Charlotte Mandell, Compass (Fitzcarraldo Editions)
Wioletta Greg (Poland), Eliza Marciniak, Swallowing Mercury (Portobello Books)
David Grossman (Israel), Jessica Cohen, A Horse Walks Into a Bar (Jonathan Cape)
Stefan Hertmans (Belgium), David McKay, War and Turpentine (Harvill Secker)
Roy Jacobsen (Norway), Don Bartlett, Don Shaw, The Unseen (Maclehose)
Ismail Kadare (Albania), John Hodgson, The Traitor’s Niche (Harvill Secker)
Jon Kalman Stefansson (Iceland), Phil Roughton, Fish Have No Feet (Maclehose)
Yan Lianke (China), Carlos Rojas, The Explosion Chronicles (Chatto & Windus)
Alain Mabanckou (France), Helen Stevenson, Black Moses (Serpent’s Tail)
Clemens Meyer (Germany), Katy Derbyshire, Bricks and Mortar (Fitzcarraldo Editions)
Dorthe Nors (Denmark), Misha Hoekstra, Mirror, Shoulder, Signal (Pushkin Press)
Amos Oz (Israel), Nicholas de Lange, Judas (Chatto & Windus)
Samanta Schweblin (Argentina), Megan McDowell, Fever Dream (Oneworld)
A book synopses and biography of the authors, as per the press release:
Translated by Charlotte Mandell
Published by Fitzcarraldo Editions
As night falls over Vienna, Franz Ritter, an insomniac musicologist, takes to his sickbed with an unspecified illness and spends a restless night drifting between dreams and memories, revisiting the important chapters of his life: his ongoing fascination with the Middle East and his numerous travels to Istanbul, Aleppo, Damascus, and Tehran, as well as the various writers, artists, musicians, academics, orientalists, and explorers who populate this vast dreamscape. At the centre of these memories is his elusive, unrequited love, Sarah, a fiercely intelligent French scholar caught in the intricate tension between Europe and the Middle East. An immersive, nocturnal, musical novel, full of generous erudition and bittersweet humour, Compass is a journey and a declaration of admiration, a quest for the otherness inside us all and a hand reaching out – like a bridge between West and East, yesterday and tomorrow.
Mathias Enard, born in 1972 in Niort, France, studied Persian and Arabic and spent long periods in the Middle East. He has lived in Barcelona for about 15 years, interrupted in 2013 by a writing residency in Berlin. He won several awards for Zone, including the Prix du Livre Inter and the Prix Décembre, and won the Liste Goncourt/Le Choix de l’Orient, the Prix littéraire de la Porte Dorée, and the Prix du Roman-News for Street of Thieves. He won the 2015 Prix Goncourt for Compass.
Charlotte Mandell has translated fiction, poetry, and philosophy from the French, including works by Proust, Flaubert, Genet, Maupassant, Blanchot, and many other distinguished authors. She has received many accolades and awards for her translations, including a Literature Translation Fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts for Zone. Born in Hartford Connecticut in 1968, she lives in New York State.
Translated by Eliza Marciniak
Published by Portobello Books
Wiola lives in a close-knit agricultural community in 1980s Poland. Wiola’s father was a deserter but now he is a taxidermist. Wiola’s father was a deserter but now he is a taxidermist. Wiola’s mother tells her that killing spiders brings on storms. Wiola must never enter the seamstresses’s ‘secret’ room. Wiola collects matchbox labels. Wiola is a good Catholic girl brought up with fables and nurtured on superstition. Wiola lives in a Poland that is both very recent and lost in time. Swallowing Mercury is about the ordinary passing of years filled with extraordinary days. In vivid prose filled with texture, colour and sound, it describes the adult world encroaching on the child’s. From childhood to adolescence, Wiola dances to the strange music of her own imagination.
Wioletta Greg is the author of six volumes of poetry and a novella, Swallowing Mercury, translated here into English for the first time. Her poetry collection, Finite Formulae & Theories of Chance, was shortlisted for the 2015 Griffin Poetry Prize. She was born in Kozieglowy, Poland in February 1974. She lives in Essex.
Eliza Marciniak, who was born in Poland in 1974 is an editor and translator, living in London. Her recent projects include Swallowing Mercury, by Wioletta Greg, translated from Polish.
A Horse Walks Into a Bar
Translated by Jessica Cohen
Published by Jonathan Cape
The setting is a comedy club in a small Israeli town. An audience that has come expecting an evening of amusement instead sees a comedian falling apart on stage; an act of disintegration, a man crumbling before their eyes as a matter of choice. They could get up and leave, or boo and whistle and drive him from the stage, if they were not so drawn to glimpse his personal hell.
Dovale Gee, a veteran stand-up comic – charming, erratic, repellent – exposes a wound he has been living with for years: a fateful and gruesome choice he had to make between the two people who were dearest to him.
David Grossman is the bestselling author of numerous works, which have been translated into 36 languages. His most recent novels are To the End of the Land, described by British academic Jacqueline Rose as ‘without question one of the most powerful and moving novels I have ever read’, and Falling Out of Time. He is the recipient of the French Chevalier de l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres and the 2010 Frankfurt Peace Prize. He was born in Jerusalem, where he currently resides, in 1954.
Jessica Cohen is a freelance translator born in England in 1973, raised in Israel, and living in Denver. Her translations include David Grossman’s critically acclaimed To the End of the Land, and works by major Israeli writers including Etgar Keret, Rutu Modan, Dorit Rabinyan, Ronit Matalon, Amir Gutfreund and Tom Segev, as well as Golden Globe-winning director Ari Folman. She is a past board member of the American Literary Translators Association and has served as a judge for the National Translation Award.
War and Turpentine
Translated by David McKay
Published by Harvill Secker
Shortly before his death, Stefan Hertmans’ grandfather Urbain Martien gave his grandson a set of notebooks containing the detailed memories of his life. He grew up in poverty around 1900, the son of a struggling church painter who died young, and went to work in an iron foundry at only 13. Afternoons spent with his father at work on a church fresco were Urbain’s heaven; the iron foundry an inferno. During the First World War, Urbain was on the front line confronting the invading Germans, and he is haunted by events he can never forget. The war ends and he marries his great love, Maria Emelia, but she dies tragically in the 1919 flu epidemic. Urbain mourns her bitterly for the rest of his life but, like the obedient soldier he is, he marries her sister at her parents’ bidding. The rest is not quite silence, but a marriage with a sad secret at its heart, and the consolations found in art and painting.
Stefan Hertmans is the prizewinning author of many works, including poetry, novels, essays, plays, short stories and a handbook on the history of art. He has taught at the Royal Academy of Fine Arts in Ghent, at the Sorbonne, the Universities of Vienna, Berlin and Mexico City, at The Library of Congress in Washington, and University College London. He was born in Ghent, where he still lives, in 1951.
David McKay’s recent literary translations include War and Turpentine by Stefan Hertmans and Multatuli’s classic Max Havelaar (a joint translation with Ina Rilke for NYRB Classics, to be published in 2018), as well as contributions to the Penguin Book of Dutch Short Stories. He also regularly works for the Van Gogh Museum and other major Dutch museums and publishers. He has given talks, led workshops, and written articles on translation topics, served as a judge for translation prizes, contributed to Dutch-English dictionaries, and acted as an adviser to the American Translators Association and the Dutch Foundation for Literature. He was born in Syracuse in 1973 and lives in The Hague, the Netherlands.
Translated by Don Bartlett and Don Shaw
Published by Maclehose
Ingrid Barrøy is born on an island that bears her name – a holdfast for a single family, their livestock, their crops, their hopes and dreams. Her father dreams of building a jetty that will connect them to the mainland, but closer ties to the wider world come at a price. Her mother has her own dreams – more children, a smaller island, a different life – and there is one question Ingrid must never ask her. Island life is hard, a living scratched from the dirt or trawled from the sea, so when Ingrid comes of age, she is sent to the mainland to work for one of the wealthy families on the coast. But Norway too is waking up to a wider world, a modern world that is capricious and can be cruel. Tragedy strikes, and Ingrid must fight to protect the home she thought she had left behind.
Roy Jacobsen has twice been nominated for the Nordic Council’s Literary Award: for Seierherrene in 1991 and Frost in 2003. In 2009 he was shortlisted for the Dublin Impac Award for his novel The Burnt-Out Town of Miracles. He was born in Oslo in 1961, where he currently resides.
Don Bartlett lives in Norfolk, UK and works as a freelance translator of Scandinavian literature. He has translated, or co-translated, Norwegian novels by Karl Ove Knausgård, Lars Saabye Christensen, Roy Jacobsen, Ingvar Ambjornsen, Kjell Ola Dahl, Gunnar Staalesen, Pernille Rygg, and Jo Nesbo. He was born in Norfolk in 1948.
Don Shaw is a teacher of Danish and author of the standard Danish–Thai/Thai–Danish dictionaries. He has worked with Don Bartlett on translating Erland Loe.
The Traitor’s Niche
Translated by John Hodgson
Published by Harvill Secker
At the heart of the Ottoman Empire, in the main square of Constantinople, a niche is carved into ancient stone. Here, the sultan displays the severed heads of his adversaries. People flock to see the latest head and gossip about the state of the empire: the province of Albania is demanding independence again, and the niche awaits a new trophy. Tundj Hata, the imperial courier, is charged with transporting heads to the capital – a task he relishes and performs with fervour. But as he travels through obscure and impoverished territories, he makes money from illicit side-shows, offering villagers the spectacle of death. The head of the rebellious Albanian governor would fetch a very high price.
Ismail Kadare, born in 1936 in Albania, is the country’s best-known poet and novelist and the winner of the first ever Man Booker International Prize. Since the appearance of The General of the Dead Army in 1965, Kadare has published scores of stories and novels that make up a panorama of Albanian history linked by a constant meditation on the nature and human consequences of dictatorship. His works, particularly The Monster and The Palace of Dreams, brought him into frequent conflict with the authorities, and in 1990 he sought political asylum in France. He now divides his time between Paris and Tirana.
John Hodgson, born in 1951, taught at the Universities of Pristina and Tirana after studying English literature at Cambridge and Newcastle. He has worked as a translator and interpreter at the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia in The Hague. He has translated five novels by Ismail Kadare, most recently The Traitor’s Niche, and several works by Fatos Lubonja, including Second Sentence and The False Apocalypse. He lives in London.
Fish Have No Feet
Jón Kalman Stefánsson
Translated by Phil Roughton
Published by Maclehose
Keflavik: a town that has been called the darkest place in Iceland, surrounded by black lava fields, hemmed in by a sea that may not be fished. Its livelihood depends entirely on a U.S. military base, a conduit for American influences that shaped Icelandic culture and ethics from the 1950s to the dawn of the new millennium. It is to Keflavik that Ari – a writer and publisher – returns from Copenhagen at the behest of his dying father, two years after walking out on his wife and children. He is beset by memories of his youth, spent or misspent listening to Pink Floyd and the Beatles, fraternising with American servicemen – who are regarded by the locals with a mixture of admiration and contempt – and discovering girls. There is one girl in particular he could never forget – her fate has stayed with him all his life.
Jón Kalman Stefánsson was born in Reykjavík in 1963. He is the 2011 winner of the P. O. Enquist Award and his novels have been nominated three times for the Nordic Council Prize for
Literature. His novel Summer Light, and then Comes the Night received the Icelandic Prize for Literature. Spellbound Productions are making a film of his trilogy of novels, Heaven and Hell, The Sorrow of Angels and The Heart of Man. He lives in Iceland.
Philip Roughton is a scholar of Old Norse and medieval literature and an award-winning translator of modern Icelandic literature, having translated works by numerous Icelandic writers, including the Nobel prize-winning author Halldór Laxness. His translation of The Islander: A Biography of Halldór Laxness by Halldór Guõmundsson was published by MacLehose Press in 2008. Born in the US in 1965, he now lives in Iceland.
The Explosion Chronicles
Translated by Carlos Rojas
Published by Chatto & Windus
With the Yi River on one side and the Balou Mountains on the other, the village of Explosion was founded a thousand years ago by refugees fleeing a volcanic eruption. But in the post-Mao era, the name takes on a new significance as the rural community grows explosively from a small village to a town to a city to a vast megalopolis. Behind this rapid expansion are three rival clans linked together by a web of ambition, madness and greed. They transform their hometown into a Babylon of modern times – an unrivalled urban superpower built on lies, sex and thievery.
Yan Lianke was born in 1958 in Henan Province, China. He is the author of numerous novels and short-story collections, including Serve the People!, Dream of Ding Village, Lenin’s Kisses and The Four Books. He has been awarded the Hua Zhong World Chinese Literature Prize, the Lao She Literary Award and the Franz Kafka Prize, whose previous winners include Vaclav Havel, John Banville and Harold Pinter. He has also been shortlisted for an array of prizes including the Man Booker International Prize, the Independent Foreign Fiction Prize and the Prix Femina. He currently lives and writes in Beijing.
Carlos Rojas, born in Atlanta, USA in 1970, is the author of The Naked Gaze: Reflections on Chinese Modernity, The Great Wall: A Cultural History, and Homesickness: Culture, Contagion, and National Transformation in Modern China. As well as being the co-editor for a number of books on Chinese and Taiwanese culture, he is the co-translator of Yu Hua’s novel, Brothers, and has translated Yan Lianke’s novels Lenin’s Kisses and The Four Books. He teaches on a variety of topics ranging from prostitutes and vampires to cities, migration, and disease. He lives in Durham, North Carolina.
Translated by Helen Stevenson
Published by Serpent’s Tail
It’s 1970, and in the People’s Republic of Congo a Marxist-Leninist revolution is ushering in a new age. But over at the orphanage on the outskirts of Pointe-Noire where young Moses has grown up, the revolution has only strengthened the reign of terror of Dieudonné Ngoulmoumako, the institution’s corrupt director. So Moses escapes to Pointe-Noire, where he finds a home with a larcenous band of Congolese Merry Men and among the Zairean prostitutes of the Trois-Cents quarter. But the authorities won’t leave Moses in peace, and intervene to chase both the Merry Men and the Trois-Cents girls out of town. All this injustice pushes poor Moses over the edge. Could he really be the Robin Hood of the Congo? Or is he just losing his marbles?
Alain Mabanckou was born in 1966 in Congo. An award-winning novelist, poet and essayist, Mabanckou currently lives in Los Angeles, where he teaches literature at UCLA. His four previous novels African Psycho, Broken Glass, Black Bazaar and Tomorrow I’ll Be Twenty – a fictionalised retelling of Mabanckou’s childhood in Congo – are all published by Serpent’s Tail, as is the memoir The Lights of Pointe-Noire, which won the 2016 French Voices Award. In 2015 Mabanckou was listed as a finalist for the Man Booker International Prize.
Helen Stevenson is a piano teacher, writer and translator, and lives in Somerset. She has translated works by Marie Darrieussecq, Alice Ferney and Catherine Millet, as well as several books by Alain Mabanckou. She was born in Staffordshire in 1963.
Bricks and Mortar
Translated by Katy Derbyshire
Published by Fitzcarraldo Editions
Bricks and Mortar is the story of the sex trade in a big city in the former GDR, from just before 1989 to the present day, charting the development of the industry from absolute prohibition to full legality in the 20 years following the reunification of Germany. The focus is on the rise and fall of one man from football hooligan to large-scale landlord and service-provider for prostitutes to, ultimately, a man persecuted by those he once trusted. But we also hear other voices: many different women who work in prostitution, their clients, small-time gangsters, an ex-jockey searching for his drug-addict daughter, a businessman from the West, a girl forced into child prostitution, a detective, a pirate radio presenter…
Clemens Meyer was born 1977 in Halle, Germany. After high school he worked as a watchman, building worker and removal man. He studied creative writing at the German Literary Institute in Leipzig and was granted a scholarship by the Saxon Ministry of Science and Arts in 2002. His first novel, Als wir träumten, was a huge success and for his second book, Die Nacht, die Lichter, a collection of short stories, he was awarded the Leipzig Book Fair Prize in 2008. Bricks and Mortar, his latest novel, was shortlisted for the German Book Prize and was awarded the Bremer Literaturpreis 2014. Meyer lives in Leipzig.
Katy Derbyshire is originally from London (born in 1973) and has lived in Berlin for 20 years. She translates contemporary German writers including Inka Parei, Dorothee Elmiger, Simon Urban, Annett Gröschner and Christa Wolf. Her translation of Clemens Meyer’s Die Nacht, die Lichter was published as All the Lights by And Other Stories in 2011. She occasionally teaches translation and also co-hosts a monthly translation lab and the bi-monthly Dead Ladies Show.
Mirror, Shoulder, Signal
Translated by Misha Hoekstra
Published by Pushkin Press
Sonja is an intelligent single woman in her 40s whose life lacks focus. The situation must change – but where to start? By learning to drive, perhaps. After all, how hard can it be? Very, as it turns out. Six months in, Sonja is still baffled by the basics and her instructor is eccentric. Sonja is also struggling with an acute case of vertigo, a sister who won’t talk to her, and a masseuse who is determined to solve her spiritual problems. Frenetic city life is a constant reminder that every man (and woman) is an island: she misses her rural childhood where ceilings were high and the sky was endless. Shifting gears is not proving easy.
Dorthe Nors was born in 1970 in Denmark, and studied literature at the University of Aarhus. She is one of the most original voices in contemporary Danish literature. Her short stories have appeared in numerous international periodicals, including the Boston Review and Harper’s, and she is the first Danish writer ever to have a story published in the New Yorker. Nors has published four novels, in addition to a collection of stories, Karate Chop, and a novella, Minna Needs Rehearsal Space, which were published together in English by Pushkin Press. Karate Chop won the prestigious P. O. Enquist Literary Prize in 2014. She lives in rural Jutland, Denmark.
Misha Hoekstra, born in the US in 1963, has won several awards for his literary translations. He lives in Aarhus, where he works as a freelance writer and translator, in addition to writing and performing songs. He also translated Minna Needs Rehearsal Space for Pushkin Press.
Translated by Nicholas de Lange
Published by Chatto & Windus
Set in the still-divided Jerusalem of 1959-60, Judas is a tragi-comic coming-of-age tale and a radical rethinking of the concept of treason. Shmuel, a young, idealistic student, is drawn to a strange house and its mysterious occupants within. As he starts to uncover the house’s tangled history, he reaches an understanding that harks back not only to the beginning of the Jewish-Arab conflict, but also to the beginning of Jerusalem itself – to Christianity, to Judaism, to Judas.
Amos Oz was born in Jerusalem in 1939. He is the internationally acclaimed author of many novels and essay collections, translated into over forty languages, including his brilliant semiautobiographical work, A Tale of Love and Darkness. He has received several international awards, including the Prix Femina, the Israel Prize, the Goethe Prize, the Frankfurt Peace Prize and the 2013 Franz Kafka Prize. He lives in Israel and is considered a towering figure in world literature.
Nicholas de Lange has been translating Amos Oz’s work since 1972, and Judas is the 17th novel by Oz that de Lange has translated. He has also translated fiction by Aharon Appelfeld, A.B. Yehoshua and S. Yizhar. He was born in Nottingham, UK in 1944, and still lives there.
Translated by Megan McDowell
Published by Oneworld
A young woman named Amanda lies dying in a rural hospital clinic. A boy named David sits beside her. She’s not his mother. He’s not her child. The two seem anxious and, at David’s ever more insistent prompting, Amanda recounts a series of events from the apparently recent past. As David pushes her to recall whatever trauma has landed her in her terminal state, he unwittingly opens a chest of horrors, and suddenly the terrifying nature of their reality is brought into shocking focus.
Samanta Schweblin was born in Buenos Aires, Argentina in 1978. In 2001, she was awarded first prize by both the National Fund for the Arts and the Haroldo Conti National Competition for her debut, El Núcleo del Disturbio. In 2008, she won the Casa de las Américas prize for her second collection of stories, Pájaros en la boca. Two years later, she was listed among the Best of Young Spanish Writers by Granta magazine. Her work has been translated into numerous languages and appeared in more than twenty countries. She lives in Berlin.
Megan McDowell has translated many modern and contemporary South American authors, including Alejandro Zambra, Arturo Fontaine, Carlos Busqued, Álvaro Bisama and Juan Emar. Her translations have been published in The New Yorker, McSweeney’s, Words Without Borders, Mandorla, and Vice, among others. Born in Mississippi in 1978, she now resides in Chile.