Sam Leith

Our verdict on this year’s Man Booker International Prize longlist

Our verdict on this year's Man Booker International Prize longlist
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The longlist for the Man Booker International Prize for fiction – judged by a very impressive panel headed by Lisa Appignanesi and including Michael Hofmann, Hari Kunzru, Helen Oyeyemi and our own Tim Martin – is out. Special props to super-translator Frank Wynne, who has translated not one but two of the thirteen books on the longlist; one from French and one from Spanish, smarty-pants that he is.

It also bears noting how many of these books have only appeared in English thanks to the perspicacity of small presses, and lists with a special interest in translated fiction. Not one of these books is on the main imprint of a major fiction house – bearing out Milan Kundera’s wise remarks about what he calls the 'parochialism of large nations'.

Instead their publishers are Fitzcarraldo, Oneworld, MacLehose Press, Tuskar Rock, Portobello, Seagull, Text, Charco and Harvill Secker (a particularly cultivated part of the Random Penguin family). So our thanks and congratulations are due to those publishers, too.

Here’s the full list, with links (where we have them) to the Spectator’s reviews:

The 7th Function of Language by Laurent Binet, tr by Sam Taylor

The Imposter by Javier Cercas, tr by Frank Wynne

Vernon Subutex 1 by Virginie Despentes, tr by Frank Wynne

Go, Went, Gone by Jenny Erpenbeck, tr by Susan Bernofsky

The White Book by Han Kang, tr by Deborah Smith

Die, My Love by Ariana Harwicz, tr by Sarah Moses & Carolina Orloff

The World Goes On by László Krasznahorkai, tr by John Batki, Ottilie Mulzet & George Szirtes

Like A Fading Shadow by Antonio Muñoz Molina, tr by Camilo A. Ramirez

The Flying Mountain by Christoph Ransmayr, tr by Simon Pare

Frankenstein in Baghdad by Ahmed Saadawi, tr by Jonathan Wright (Spectator review forthcoming)

Flights by Olga Tokarczuk, tr by Jennifer Croft

The Stolen Bicycle by Wu Ming-Yi, tr by Darryl Sterk

The Dinner Guest by Gabriela Ybarra, tr by Natasha Wimmer

We didn’t review all of them, so there’s a parochialism rebuke available for us, too. (Though we did get Hari Kunzru to review a previous Krasznahorkai last year.) Boyd Tonkin’s review of Frankenstein in Baghdad appears in this week’s Spectator...

Anyway, shortlist is announced on 21 April. Good luck to all.

Written bySam Leith

Sam Leith is an English author, journalist and literary editor of The Spectator.

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