The Man Booker International Prize today reveals the shortlist of six books in contention for the 2018 prize, which celebrates the finest works of translated fiction from around the world. The £50,000 prize for the winning book will be divided equally between its author and translator.
The 2018 shortlist is as follows:
Author (country/territory), Translator, Title, (imprint)
- Virginie Despentes (France), Frank Wynne, Vernon Subutex 1 (MacLehose Press)
- Han Kang (South Korea), Deborah Smith, The White Book (Portobello Books)
- 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)
- Ahmed Saadawi (Iraq), Jonathan Wright, Frankenstein in Baghdad (Oneworld)
- Olga Tokarczuk (Poland), Jennifer Croft, Flights (Fitzcarraldo Editions)
The list includes Han Kang and Deborah Smith, who won the prize in 2016 for The Vegetarian, and László Krasznahorkai, who won the prize in its former iteration in 2015, when it was awarded for an achievement in fiction evident in a body of work. The list spans four European languages: French, Spanish, Hungarian, Polish; one from South Korea, and one from Iraq, in Arabic.
The settings range from the rock music scene in Paris, to the streets of Baghdad where a monster roams wild, to James Earl Ray’s short stay in Lisbon fleeing law enforcement; two novels span the globe, one charting Chopin’s heart making a covert voyage from Paris to Warsaw, and one featuring men on the edge of despair in Kiev, Varanasi and Shanghai; with one novel being a meditation on the colour white and an investigation of mourning and rebirth.
The translators are all at the forefront of their craft, with John Batki, Ottilie Mulzet and George Szirtes a well-established team for Krasznahorkai and Deborah Smith translating every work by Han Kang. Frank Wynne comes through with his French translation, having also been longlisted for a translation from Spanish.
The shortlist is dominated by independent publishers, with two books from Tuskar Rock Press, and one each from MacLehose Press, Portobello Books, Oneworld and Fitzcarraldo Editions.
Lisa Appignanesi, chair of the 2018 Man Booker International Prize judging panel, comments:
‘This is a shortlist emblematic of the many adventures of fiction – its making and reading. We have mesmeric meditations, raucous, sexy, state- of- the- nation stories, haunting sparseness and sprawling tales; enigmatic cabinets of curiosity, and daring acts of imaginative projection – all this plus sparkling encounters with prose in translation. We were sorry to have shed so much of our longlist talent, but this is a shortlist to read and re-read.’
More judges’ comments on each book can be found in ‘Book synopses and biographies’ in the lower part of this release.
Luke Ellis, CEO of Man Group, comments:
‘Congratulations to the authors and translators included on the shortlist, which recognises talent and creativity from around the world. We are proud to support the Man Booker International Prize’s celebration of international literary excellence, as well as the important charitable work of the Booker Prize Foundation in promoting literature and literacy.’
The longlist was selected by a panel of five judges, chaired by Lisa Appignanesi OBE, author and cultural commentator, and consisting of; Michael Hofmann, poet, reviewer and translator from German; Hari Kunzru, author of five novels including The Impressionist and White Tears; Tim Martin, journalist and literary critic, and Helen Oyeyemi, author of novels, plays and short stories including The Icarus Girl.
The winner of the 2018 prize will be announced on 22 May at a formal dinner at the Victoria & Albert Museum in London, with the £50,000 prize being divided equally between the author and the translator of the winning book.
Leading up to the winner announcement, there will be a number of public events featuring some of the judges, authors and translators:
17 May - ‘Translation at its Finest’ event in partnership with Foyles and English PEN at Foyles, Charing Cross Road, London
21 May - Man Booker International Prize event with Waterstones at The Emmanuel Centre, Westminster, London
The Man Booker International Prize and the Man Booker Prize for Fiction together reward the best books from around the globe that are published in the UK and are available in English.
The prize is sponsored by Man Group, an active investment management firm that also sponsors the Man Booker Prize for Fiction. Both prizes strive to recognise and reward the finest in contemporary literature.