International Booker Prize 2023 Longlist Announced
The best works translated into English published in the UK or Ireland.
Exciting news in the world of literature! The Booker Prize has just announced the 2023 longlist for its International Prize for translated fiction. And let me tell you, it is a doozy.
Right now, I'm in the process of adding everything that's currently available in the US to my TBR. And, as the rest of the books are released, you can bet your bottom dollar that they'll be added to my list as well.
But, the fun doesn't stop there, my friends. On April 18, the shortlist of six books will be announced. And, if you're anything like me, you're gonna be on the edge of your seat waiting to find out which books made the cut.
And, finally, on May 23rd, the winner will be announced. This is a big deal, folks. The Booker Prize is one of the most prestigious literary awards out there, and the International Prize for translated fiction is no exception.
So, get ready to add some amazing books to your TBR, and let's celebrate the amazing work being done in the world of translated fiction.
I hope you’re doing well today.
The nominees are:
Boulder, by Eva Baltasar, translated by Julia Sanches
Working as a cook on a merchant ship, a woman comes to know and love Samsa, who gives her the nickname ‘Boulder’. When the couple decide to move to Reykjavik together, Samsa announces that she wants to have a child. She is already 40 and can’t bear to let the opportunity pass her by.
Boulder is less enthused but doesn’t know how to say no - and so finds herself dragged along on a journey that feels as thankless as it is alien. With motherhood changing Samsa into a stranger, Boulder must decide where her priorities lie, and whether her yearning for freedom will trump her yearning for love.
Whale, by Cheon Myeong-kwan, translated by Chi-Young Kim
Set in a remote village in South Korea, Whale follows the lives of three linked characters: Geumbok, an extremely ambitious woman who has been chasing an indescribable thrill ever since she first saw a whale crest in the ocean; her mute daughter, Chunhui, who communicates with elephants; and a one-eyed woman who controls honeybees with a whistle. A fiction that brims with surprises and wicked humour, from one of the most original voices in South Korea.
Releases in the US on April 25th.
The Gospel According to the New World, by Maryse Condé, translated by Richard Philcox
Baby Pascal is strikingly beautiful, brown in complexion, with grey-green eyes like the sea. But where does he come from? Is he really the child of God? So goes the rumour, and many signs throughout his life will cause this theory to gain ground.
From journey to journey and from one community to another, Pascal sets off in search of his origins, trying to understand the meaning of his mission. Will he be able to change the fate of humanity? And what will the New World Gospel reveal?
Standing Heavy, by GauZ, translated by Frank Wynne
Amidst the political bickering of the inhabitants of the Residence for Students from Côte d’Ivoire and the ever-changing landscape of French immigration policy, two generations of Ivoirians attempt to make their way as undocumented workers, taking shifts as security guards at a flour mill. This sharply satirical yet poignant tale draws on the author’s own experiences as an undocumented student in Paris.
Time Shelter, by Georgi Gospodinov, translated by Angela Rodel
An unnamed narrator is tasked with collecting the flotsam and jetsam of the past, from 1960s furniture and 1940s shirt buttons to scents, and even afternoon light. But as the rooms become more convincing, an increasing number of healthy people seek out the clinic as a ‘time shelter’, hoping to escape the horrors of modern life - a development that results in an unexpected conundrum when the past begins to invade the present.
Intricately crafted, and eloquently translated by Angela Rodel, Time Shelter cements Georgi Gospodinov’s reputation as one of the indispensable writers of our times, and a major voice in international literature.
Is Mother Dead, by Vigdis Hjorth, translated by Charlotte Barslund
Recently widowed, Johanna is back in Oslo after a long absence to prepare for a retrospective of her art. The subject of her work is motherhood and some of her more controversial paintings have brought about a dramatic rift between parent and child.
This new proximity, after decades of acrimonious absence, set both women on edge. Before too long, Johanna finds her mother stalking her thoughts, and herself stalking her mother’s house.
Jimi Hendrix Live in Lviv, by Andrey Kurkov, translated by Rueben Woolley
Strange things are afoot in the cosmopolitan city of Lviv, western Ukraine. Seagulls are circling and the air smells salty, though Lviv is a long way from the sea. A ragtag group gathers round a mysterious grave in Lychakiv Cemetery - among them an ex-KGB officer and an ageing hippy he used to spy on. Before long, Captain Ryabtsev and Alik Olisevych team up to discover the source of the ‘anomalies’.
Meanwhile, Taras - who makes a living driving kidney-stone patients over cobblestones in his ancient Opel Vectra – is courting Darka, who works nights at a bureau de change despite being allergic to money. The young lovers don’t know it, but their fate depends on two lonely old men, relics of another era, who will stop at nothing to save their city.
There is currently no US release date available.
The Birthday Party, by Laurent Mauvignier, translated by Daniel Levin Becker
Buried deep in rural France, little remains of the isolated hamlet of the Three Lone Girls, save a few houses and a curiously assembled quartet: Patrice Bergogne, inheritor of his family’s farm; his wife, Marion; their daughter, Ida; and their neighbour, Christine, an artist.
While Patrice plans a surprise for his wife’s fortieth birthday, inexplicable events start to disrupt the hamlet’s quiet existence: anonymous, menacing letters, an unfamiliar car rolling up the driveway. And as night falls, strangers stalk the houses, unleashing a nightmarish chain of events.
While We Were Dreaming, by Clemens Meyer, translated by Katy Derbyshire
Rico, Mark, Paul and Daniel were 13 when the Berlin Wall fell in autumn 1989. Growing up in Leipzig at the time of reunification, they dream of a better life somewhere beyond the brewery quarter. Every night they roam the streets, partying, rioting, running away from their fears, their parents and the future, fighting to exist, killing time. They drink, steal cars, feel wrecked, play it cool, longing for real love and true freedom.
Pyre, by Perumal Murugan, translated by Aniruddhan Vasudevan
Saroja and Kumaresan are in love. And in danger. After a whirlwind romance they marry in a small southern Indian town, before returning to Kumaresan’s family village. But the newlyweds are harbouring a dangerous secret: they belong to different castes, and if the villagers find out they will be in grave peril.
Faced with venom from her mother-in-law, and pointed questions from her new neighbours, Saroja struggles to adjust to a lonely and uncomfortable life. Kumaresan throws himself into building a business, hoping to scrape together enough money for them to start over somewhere new. But as vicious whispers encircle the couple, will their love be enough to keep them safe?
Still Born, by Guadalupe Nettel, translated by Rosalind Harvey
Alina and Laura are independent and career-driven women in their mid-thirties, neither of whom have built their future around the prospect of a family. Laura has taken the drastic decision to be sterilised, but as time goes by Alina becomes drawn to the idea of becoming a mother.
When complications arise in Alina’s pregnancy and Laura becomes attached to her neighbour’s son, both women are forced to reckon with the complexity of their emotions, in Nettel’s sensitive and surgically precise exploration of maternal ambivalence.
Releases in the US on August 8th.
A System So Magnificent It Is Blinding, by Amanda Svensson, translated by Nichola Smalley
In October 1989, a set of triplets is born, and it is at this moment their father chooses to reveal his affair. Pandemonium ensues.
Over two decades later, Sebastian is recruited to join a mysterious organisation, where he meets Laura Kadinsky, a patient whose inability to see the world in three dimensions is not the only intriguing thing about her. Meanwhile, Clara has travelled to Easter Island to join a doomsday cult, and the third triplet, Matilda, is in Sweden, trying to escape from the colour blue.
Then, something happens that forces the triplets to reunite. Their mother calls with worrying news: their father has gone missing and she has something to tell them, a 25-year secret that will change all their lives.
Ninth Building, by Zou Jingzhi, translated by Jeremy Tiang
Revisiting his experiences as a boy in Beijing and then as a teenager exiled to the countryside, Zou captures a side of the Cultural Revolution that is seldom talked about - the sheer tedium and waste of young life under the regime, as well as the gallows humour that accompanies such desperate situations.
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