Man Booker International Prize 2016

by Emma Sewell
by Emma Sewell

This year the Man Booker International Prize and the Independent Foreign Fiction Prize are merging to create an annual award for literary fiction that is translated into English. Today saw the announcement of their first longlist.

Meet the “Man Booker Dozen”

13 great titles in translation.

Man Booker International Prize 2016

A General Theory of Oblivion by José Eduardo Agualusa and translated by Danny Hahn

On the eve of Angolan independence, Ludo bricks herself into her apartment, where she remains for the next thirty years. She gets snippets on life on the outside from the radio and voices from next door. Until one day she meets Sabalu, a young boy from the street who climbs up to her terrace.

The Story of the Lost Child by Elena Ferrante and translated by Ann Goldstein

Fourth and final book in the Neapolitan series. Life’s great discoveries have been made, its vagaries and losses suffered. Throughout it all though, their friendship remains the centre of their lives.

The Vegetarian by Han Kang and translated by Deborah Smith

Yeong-hye, seeking a more ‘plant-like’ existence, decides to become a vegetarian. In South Korea, where vegetarianism is almost unheard of and societal norms are strictly obeyed, Yeong-hye’s decision is a shocking act of subversion. The Vegetarian is a novel about modern day South Korea, but also a novel about shame, desire and our faltering attempts to understand others, from one imprisioned body to another.

Mend the Living by Maylis de Kerangal and translated by Jessica Moore

From fatal accident to live-saving operation, this is the heart’s story. The black box of Simon Limbeau’s body. His heart has leapt, swelled, melted, sunk, and now, on this cold winter’s night it rests and recharges, readying itself for the day ahead.

Man Tiger by Eka Kurniawan and translated by Labodalih Sembiring

This tale set in a small town on the Indonesian coast, tells of two interlinked and tormented families, and of Margio, a young man ordinary except for the supernatural female white tiger he hids within. This magical being is tormented by the betrayals and inequities of family life, and when an explosive act of violence follows we’re led to a heartbreaking revelation.

The Four Books by Yan Lianke and translated by Carlos Rojas

Divided into four narratives, The Four Books follows the story of the Great Famine, one of China’s most devastating and controversial periods.

Tram 83 by Fiston Mwanza Mujila and translated by Roland Glasser

Tram 83 is the den of all outlaws, and the only night-club in the city. We are plunged into a city of gangsters and runaways, profit-seekers and federal agents, and the atmosphere of a gold rush as cynical as it is comic and colourfully exotic.

A Cup of Rage by Raduan Nassar and translated by Stefan Tobler

After a night together in the Brazilian outback, the young female journalist and her older man’s warring egos bring them to an intense and cruel power game. Exploring alienation, the desire to dominate and the wish to be dominated.

Ladivine by Mari NDiaye and translated by Jordan Stump

Centred on three generations of women, whose seemingly cursed lineage is defined by the weight of origins, the pain of alienation and the legacy of shame. Ladivine is a story of secrets, lies, guilt and forgiveness.

Death by Water by Kenzaburō Ōe and translated by Deborah Boliner Boem

Kogito Choko has hit a wall, writer’s block has taken hold. He knows he must write about his fraught relationship with his father, but where should he start when he never really knew him? A solution may be at hand when his astranged sister contacts him with the promise of unlocking secrets from their past, from inside a mysterious red trunk.

White Hunger by Aki Ollikainen and translated by Emily & Fleur Jeremiah

Marja, a farmer’s wife sets off with her two children through the snow. They head for St Petersburg, where they’ve heard there is bread. Others are travelling too, Ruuni seems trustworthy, but can anyone really help? Set in 1867, a year of devastating famine.

A Strangeness in My Mind by Orhan Pamuk and translated by Ekin Oklap

What matters more in love? What we wish for or what our fate has in store? Do our choices dictate whether we will be happy or not, or are these things determined by forces beyond our control? A Strangeness in My Mind tries to answer these questions while portraying the tensions between urban life and family life, and the fury and helplessness of women inside their homes.

A Whole Life by Robert Seethaler and translated by Charlotte Collins

Jim Crace Andreas has lived his whole life in the Austrian Alps. He falls in love with Marie, but being a man of few words, he asks her to marry him by having his friends light her name across the mountain. But his heart is broken when Marie, pregnant with their first child, dies in an avalanche. Leaving his home to fight in WWII, and returns to find that his remote haven has taken to modern ways.

Watch out for the shortlist in April, ahead of the announcement of the winner of The Man Booker International Prize in May.

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