2018 Man Booker International Prize Longlist

Flights

I am no longer a Shadow Jury member for the Man Booker International Prize (‘MBIP’).

For the last four years I have been a member of the Shadow Jury, or more specifically the Independent Foreign Fiction Prize (‘IFFP’) Shadow Jury for two years until it merged with the new incarnation of the Man Booker International Prize, which was originally bi-annually and for a body of work, not a single book.. For numerous reasons, I decided that in 2018 I would no longer take part in Shadow Jury duties. During those four years, I  read and reviewed fifty-six longlisted titles (the IFFP had longlists of fifteen titles, the MBIP a longlist of thirteen), the thought of cramming in another thirteen titles within the next two months did not appeal.

With David Grossman winning in 2017 for “A Horse Walks Into A Bar” (translated by Jessica Cohen), I felt the award was catering for the “average”, something safe, something that would sell and not prove too difficult for many readers. Of course a “jury” structure also tends towards the average, and although I understand the wisdom of crowds, I am also a believer that when you trend towards an average, the end result is simply that…average.

As regular visitors here would also notice, in recent times I have been leaning towards more weighty, difficult texts, whilst several titles on the MBIP longlist may meet my reading tastes I didn’t want to be forced a reading list of books that may not appeal and of course the pressing timelines. There are other more private reasons for my withdrawal from the Shadow Jury, but they are simply that…private.

Of course, that decision doesn’t mean I am not interested in translated fiction, nor the prize itself, and having a look at the longlist for the 2018 MBIP there are a few books I am sure I will visit, read and review.

Here is the longlist of thirteen titles, chosen by Chair Lisa Appignanesi, and Judges Michael Hofmann, Hari Kunzru, Tim Martin and Helen Oyeyemi. Presented in alphabetical order by Author surname and including (Nationality), Translator, Title, (Publisher)

 

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

 

I am pleased that Jennifer Croft’s translation of Olga Tokarczuk’s “Flights” made the long list, a book I thoroughly enjoyed when I read it last year, from a writer/translator combination that I keep tabs on, and I am eagerly awaiting the massive “The Books of Jakub”  (the title may be slightly different in English once translated), apparently coming from Fitzcarraldo Editions in coming years.

I have Laurent Binet’s and Ariana Harwicz’s books on my shelves and am always interested in László Krasznahorkai’s works as well as books published by Seagull Books, which means Christoph Ransmayr’s novel will probably make its way onto my reading list. However, in 2018 there is no pressure on to read thirteen books within a month, I’ll (maybe) get to them at my leisure. Good luck to the new Shadow Jury, may their reading be informed and their discussions robust.

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13 thoughts on “2018 Man Booker International Prize Longlist

  1. I always thought the shadow jury consisted of all the cool kids, I am impressed people are able to read the entire longlist. It is an interesting list, with some surprises. I need to get my hands on some, but I doubt I will read them all. I have plenty of books to read already. Flights is the first on the list I might order.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I’m full of admiration for people who undertake to be shadow jury members. It’s a hell of a commitment to read that number of books n a short period s to wanted to say thanks for being involved in the past Tony.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. The list is surprisingly thin on books from the developing world. I’ll be interested to hear your take on the Binet book. I found it interesting up to a point, but the balance tilted too much to cleverness over story. I was reading Vernon Subutex (slowly!) in French, but the clock ran out because this year I’m only reading books written 100 years ago or earlier.

    Liked by 1 person

    • To be honest the Binet was purchased on release a long time ago, it may continue to gather dust!!! I do have a few weighty books on my piles so may not get to many of these before the announcement – I’ve ordered “The Flying Mountain” and will prioritise it. Good luck with your 1918 reading

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Just read Die, My Love and that was really out there, so great to hear women author voices from Latin America being made available in English, even listening to the podcast interview between her and Tessa Hadley reveals such a different energy and while it’s a tough subject, it is refreshing to be reading something new and vibrant, something not afraid to interrupt and poke a stick at convention. Bravo Charco Press and other independents, bringing these niche literary voices to us.

    I do think it’s a good thing that translated fiction expands beyond purely literary voices, but prizes need to have an identity and can’t be all things to all men/women. I’m with you though in being the discerning reader, I don’t like to read everything, I prefer to read those that seem like they correspond to my reading interests and then I’ll also read the occasional that’s outside my comfort zone, just because that’s something I think is a healthy reading habit and allows me to try and understand it.

    Liked by 1 person

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