The Man Booker International Prize has just announced the 13 books that have been longlisted for the prestigious prize. The prize gives recognition to literary works that were translated to English and publish in the UK. It is different from its equivalent, the Man Booker Prize, where that award recognizes books originally written in English and published in the UK. The award comes with a cash prize of £50,000 ($71,000) that split equally between the author and the translator.
The winner will be announced on May 21 at a ceremony held at a dinner at the Roundhouse in London.
The nominees are:
Celestial Bodies by Jokha Alharthi and Marilyn Booth (Translator)
In the village of al-Awafi in Oman live three sisters. Mayya marries after a heartbreak. Asma marries from a sense of duty. Khawla rejects all offers while waiting for her beloved, who has emigrated to Canada. Elegantly structured, Celestial Bodies is the story of the history and people of modern Oman told through one family’s losses and loves. (Credit: Sandstone Press)
Love in the New Millennium by Can Xue and Annelise Finegan Wasmoen
In this darkly comic novel, a group of women inhabits a world of constant surveillance, where informants lurk in the flower beds and false reports fly. Conspiracies abound in a community that normalizes paranoia and suspicion. Some try to flee—whether to a mysterious gambling bordello or to ancestral homes that can be reached only underground through muddy caves, sewers, and tunnels. Others seek out the refuge of Nest County, where traditional Chinese herbal medicines can reshape or psychologically transport the self. Each life is circumscribed by buried secrets and transcendent delusions.
Can Xue’s masterful love stories for the new millennium trace love’s many guises—satirical, tragic, transient, lasting, nebulous, and fulfilling—against a kaleidoscopic backdrop of commerce and industry, fraud and exploitation, and sex and romance drawn from the East and the West. (Credit: Yale University Press)
The Years by Annie Ernaux and Alison L Strayer
The Years is a personal narrative of the period 1941 to 2006 told through the lens of memory, impressions past and present–even projections into the future–photos, books, songs, radio, television and decades of advertising, headlines, contrasted with intimate conflicts and writing notes from six decades of diaries. Local dialect, words of the times, slogans, brands and names for the ever-proliferating objects, are given voice here. The voice we recognize as the author’s continually dissolves and re-emerges. Ernaux makes the passage of time palpable. Time itself, inexorable, narrates its own course, consigning all other narrators to anonymity. A new kind of autobiography emerges, at once subjective and impersonal, private and collective. On its 2008 publication in France, The Years came as a surprise. Though Ernaux had for years been hailed as a beloved, bestselling and award-winning author, The Years was in many ways a departure: both an intimate memoir “written” by entire generations, and a story of generations telling a very personal story. Like the generation before hers, the narrator eschews the “I” for the “we” (or “they”, or “one”) as if collective life were inextricably intertwined with a private life that in her parents’ generation ceased to exist. She writes of her parents’ generation (and could be writing of her own book): “From a common fund of hunger and fear, everything was told in the “we” and impersonal pronouns.”
At Dusk by Hwang Sok-yong and Sora Kim-Russell
Park Minwoo is, by every measure, a success story. Born into poverty in a miserable neighbourhood of Seoul, he has ridden the wave of development in a rapidly modernising society. Now the director of a large architectural firm, his hard work and ambition have brought him triumph and satisfaction. But when his company is investigated for corruption, he’s forced to reconsider his role in the transformation of his country.
At the same time, he receives an unexpected message from an old friend, Cha Soona, a woman that he had once loved, and then betrayed. As memories return unbidden, Minwoo recalls a world he thought had been left behind — a world he now understands that he has helped to destroy.
In At Dusk, one of Korea’s most renowned and respected authors continues his gentle yet urgent project of evaluating Korea’s past, and examining the things, and the people, that have been given up in a never-ending quest to move forward. (Credit: Scribe UK)
Jokes for the Gunmen by Mazen Maarouf
A brilliant collection of fictions in the vein of Roald Dahl, Etgar Keret and Amy Hempel. These are stories of what the world looks like from a child’s pure but sometimes vengeful or muddled perspective. These are stories of life in a war zone, life peppered by surreal mistakes, tragic accidents and painful encounters. These are stories of fantasist matadors, lost limbs and voyeuristic dwarfs. This is a collection about sex, death and the all-important skill of making life into a joke. These are unexpected stories by a very fresh voice. These stories are unforgettable. (Credit: Portobello Books)
Four Soldiers by Hubert Mingarelli and Sam Taylor
Hubert Mingarelli’s simple, powerful, and moving stories of men in combat have established him as one of the most exciting new voices in international fiction.
In Four Soldiers he tells the story of four young soldiers in 1919, members of the Red Army during the Russian civil war. It is set in the harsh dead of winter, just as the soldiers set up camp in a forest in Galicia near the Romanian front line. Due to a lull in fighting, their days are taken up with the mundane tasks of trying to scratch together what food and comforts they can find, all the time while talking, smoking, and waiting. Waiting specifically for spring to come. Waiting for their battalion to move on. Waiting for the inevitable resumption of violence.
Recalling great works like Isaac Babel’s Red Cavalry, Ernest Hemingway’s A Farewell to Arms, and Stephen Crane’s The Red Badge of Courage, Four Soldiers is a timeless and tender story of young male friendships and the small, idyllic moments of happiness that can illuminate the darkness of war. (Credit: The New Press)
The Pine Islands by Marion Poschmann and Jen Calleja
When Gilbert Silvester, a journeyman lecturer on beard fashions in film, awakes one day from a dream that his wife has cheated on him, he flees – immediately, irrationally, inexplicably – for Japan.
In Tokyo he discovers the travel writings of the great Japanese poet Basho. Suddenly, from Gilbert’s directionless crisis there emerges a purpose: a pilgrimage in the footsteps of the poet to see the moon rise over the pine islands of Matsushima.
Falling into step with another pilgrim – a young Japanese student called Yosa, clutching a copy of The Complete Manual of Suicide – Gilbert travels with Yosa across Basho’s disappearing Japan, one in search of his perfect ending and the other the new beginning that will give his life meaning.
The Pine Islands is a serene, playful, profoundly moving story of the transformations we seek and the ones we find along the way. (Credit: Serpent’s Tail)
Mouthful of Birds by Samanta Schweblin and Megan McDowell
Unearthly and unexpected, the stories in Mouthful of Birds burrow their way into your psyche and don’t let go. Samanta Schweblin haunts and mesmerizes in this extraordinary, masterful collection.
Schweblin’s stories have the feel of a sleepless night, where every shadow and bump in the dark take on huge implications, leaving your pulse racing, and the line between the real and the strange blur. (Credit: Riverhead Books)
The Faculty of Dreams by Sara Stridsberg and Deborah Bragan-Turner
In April 1988, Valerie Solanas – the writer, radical feminist and would-be assassin of Andy Warhol – was discovered dead in her hotel room, in a grimy corner of San Francisco. She was only 52; alone, penniless and surrounded by the typed pages of her last writings.
In The Faculty of Dreams, Sara Stridsberg revisits the hotel room where Solanas died, the courtroom where she was tried and convicted of attempting to murder Andy Warhol, the Georgia wastelands where she spent her childhood, and the mental hospitals where she was interned.
Through imagined conversations and monologues, reminiscences and rantings, Stridsberg reconstructs this most intriguing and enigmatic of women, articulating the thoughts and fears that she struggled to express in life and giving a powerful, heartbreaking voice to the writer of the infamous SCUM Manifesto. (Credit: MacLehose Press)
Drive Your Plow Over the Bones of the Dead by Olga Tokarczuk and Antonia Lloyd-Jones
In a remote Polish village, Janina devotes the dark winter days to studying astrology, translating the poetry of William Blake, and taking care of the summer homes of wealthy Warsaw residents. Her reputation as a crank and a recluse is amplified by her not-so-secret preference for the company of animals over humans. Then a neighbor, Big Foot, turns up dead. Soon other bodies are discovered, in increasingly strange circumstances. As suspicions mount, Janina inserts herself into the investigation, certain that she knows whodunit. If only anyone would pay her mind…
A deeply satisfying thriller cum fairy tale, Drive Your Plow over the Bones of the Dead is a provocative exploration of the murky borderland between sanity and madness, justice and tradition, autonomy and fate. Whom do we deem sane? it asks. Who is worthy of a voice? (Credit: Riverhead Books)
The Shape of the Ruins by Juan Gabriel Vásquez and Anne McLean
The Shape of the Ruins is a masterly story of conspiracy, political obsession, and literary investigation. When a man is arrested at a museum for attempting to steal the bullet-ridden suit of a murdered Colombian politician, few notice. But soon this thwarted theft takes on greater meaning as it becomes a thread in a widening web of popular fixations with conspiracy theories, assassinations, and historical secrets; and it haunts those who feel that only they know the real truth behind these killings.
This novel explores the darkest moments of a country’s past and brings to life the ways in which past violence shapes our present lives. A compulsive read, beautiful and profound, eerily relevant to our times and deeply personal, The Shape of the Ruins is a tour-de-force story by a master at uncovering the incisive wounds of our memories. (Credit: Riverhead Books)
The Death of Murat Idrissi by Tommy Wieringa and Sam Garrett
They had no idea, when they arrived in Morocco, that their usual freedoms as young European women would not be available. So, when the spry Saleh presents himself as their guide and saviour, they embrace his offer. He extracts them from a tight space, only to lead them inexorably into an even tighter one: and from this far darker space there is no exit.
Their tale of confinement and escape is as old as the landscapes and cultures so vividly depicted in this story of where Europe and Africa come closest to meeting, even if they never quite touch. (Credit: Scribe UK)
The Remainder by Alia Trabucco Zerán and Sophie Hughes (Translator)
Santiago, Chile. The city is covered in ash. Three children of ex-militants are facing a past they can neither remember nor forget. Felipe sees dead bodies on every corner of the city, counting them up in an obsessive quest to square these figures with the official death toll. He is searching for the perfect zero, a life with no remainder. Iquela and Paloma, too, are searching for a way to live on. When the body of Paloma’s mother gets lost in transit, the three take a hearse and a bottle of pisco up the cordillera for a road trip with a difference. Intense, intelligent, and extraordinarily sensitive to the shape and weight of words, this remarkable debut presents a new way to count the cost of a pain that stretches across generations. (Credit: And Other Stories)