Man Booker international 2020 predictions

Well, it is that time of year and I look into the looking glass of books I have read and books I may have heard of as I pick my twelve books to make the Man Booker shortlist 2020. I always will stick to my own taste in books as I make this list. rather than what will make the list but it shows my taste.

Red Dog by Willem Anker trans Michiel Heyns

I read this last year it is a true tale of the life of Coenraad de Buys a real-life character that was an advisor to Xhosa chief and also friends to the missionary Johannes Theodorus van der Kemp. This is a story of a man that saw his father die when he was eight years old leaving him very little. He sets forth and the boy grows into a man. He is a trekker and man of the veldt. He spends time with his wives and various mix of children from his three wives over the years. There are little passages that show his world growing. His life is epically told not since I read Peter Carey’s true history of the Kelly Gang has a book captured a violet on edge world so well.

Loop by Brenda Lozano trans Annie McDermott

Over the last few years, Charco has been opening the doors to Latin American fiction with inventive and different books . Here is an example of a book that goes nowhere but is everywhere a woman awaiting the man her mind wanders here and there. The loop is a collection of snippets I was reminded of the first time I read Sebald in this book it is full of different references and ideas an interesting and different read.

Faces on the tip of my tongue by Emmanuelle Pagano trans

Jennifer Higgins and Sophie Lewis

So we have thirteen tales in this collection. It seems to want to capture the loneliness oddness and quirky nature of the French countryside. Here it opens with a narrator talking about a lake cycling to it this lake in the middle of the nowhere I was reminded of the lake well old quarry that was filled with water near where I grew up, then we meet the local loony as they say I was reminded of a chap the guy in the story had lost his family the guy. this captures the quirky countryside that is is in France here but could easily be in the dales, Cumbria or Northumbria.

 

Love by Hanne Ørstavik trans  Martin Aitken

Love is maybe a strange title for this book as it is about love but maybe the distance in love. The story is about a mother and son. The two the Mother Vibeke has moved her and her Son Jon too a distant village as she has taken a new job as an Arts officer. A lot of her story is about what she likes books trying to find articles that have been talked about at work. There is a sense as the narrative jumps between the two of them that there is a distance in the relationship it is a matter of months since they moved there. I read this a while ago as the US edition from Archipelago came out a couple of years ago.

 

 

 

Under pressure by Faruk Šehić trans  Mirza Puric

This book is made up of a number of stories in different styles of writing they have fragmented that capture what is the story of the fifth army as they fight and also in those downtimes in the war in the Krajina area where 200000 people were forced from there homes. We have an intro that uses the river Una The smell of the river and the birds on the river. Faruk used a working-class voice in places this book is a testament to the men he fought with and is maybe one of the best works about the Balkan conflict to come out.

Tyll by Daniel Kehlmann trans Ross Benjamin

The first I haven’t reviewed but I have two-thirds read this book as I decide to read a few longer books partway through to review if they made list straight off. So this is based on a mythical jester figure from German Folklore we follow his life but it has many echos to the modern world.

Eight life by Nino Haratsichwili trans Charlotte Collins and Ruth Martin

another part read for me is a sweeping epic that covers the 20th century from a Georgian family point of view from all over Europe it shows the century in one family’s tales. I hope it makes the actual list it has been a while since a real epic novel made the list that was Nadas’s parallel stories this is another book that captures that communist and post-communist worlds very well.

 

 

 

 

Snow, Dog, Foot by Claudio Morandini J Ockenden

This is one of those novels that when I started seemed to be one thing. It centers on one character Adekmo Farandola he is a hermit that has lived most of his life in the high Alps by himself. He only heads down occasionally to the local village and over the years he is going less and less this adds to a sense that something is odd about Adelmo. He loves the village band but is more hesitant than the previous visit this time as he gets closer to the village. He returns home but still feels the new mountain ranger is watching him at a distance. Peirene turns ten and this is the first of this year’s new books a gripping twisting Italian tale of a talking dog a hermit and a long-dead foot.

Billiards at the hotel Dobray by Dušan Šarotar trans

Rawley Grau

The Hotel Dobray of the title was one of those imposing Hotels that many small cities and places have around Europe. This is settled in the town of Sobota which is in the northeastern corner of Slovenian between three countries it was occupied in the war by the Germans they left the Hungarians in charge of the town. The story is told from one man’s story which in a way is a wider story of the town. I loved this the first book from Slovenia to deal with the Holocaust and yet again proved why I love Istros books so much.

Termin by Henrik Nor-Hansen trans Matt Bagguley

The full title of the book is Termin An inquiry into the violence in Norway. The book is only 80 pages but what we see in the aftermath of a violent attack on one mans life. Kjetil Tuestad was a normal man working in the Stavanger shipyard as an electrician. He had married his wife Ann and they had decided to settle down in the small village of Hommersak a place that was growing as the oil boom was in full swing at the time. that was all in 1998 and in Midsummer night he was found beaten on the outskirts of the town. The actual injuries are listed three fractures to the jaw his teeth completely bent the wrong way. This is what I love about the world of books in translation. Here is a short novel that hits you around the head as we see the aftereffect of a violent attack on one man and his life.

The Memory police by Yoko Ogawa trans Stephen Snyder

I haven’t read or got this one but it is one I have intended to get at some point as I have loved her other books and I feel she is a great writer and one that could be on the real longlist.

The Fallen by Carlos Manuel Alvarez trans Frank Wynne

I have read this through once and will be reviewing it next week it is set in modern Cuba and shows a family unit that is barely holding together and what has brought them to this point it tells the story from every member of the family’s point of view.

There we are I could include a couple of more Fitzcarraldo and a couple of Maclehose books as well but they could be on the list when it comes out in the week. What are your thoughts? I will be reviewing the longlist as part of the shadow jury as I decided to rejoin the jury after a couple years away from it.

10 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. fulcherkim
    Feb 23, 2020 @ 14:04:52

    That’s a great selection!

    Reply

  2. Cathy746books
    Feb 23, 2020 @ 14:17:27

    I’m a big fan of Daniel Kehlmann’s other novels so am looking forward to Tyll.

    Reply

  3. kaggsysbookishramblings
    Feb 23, 2020 @ 15:57:38

    Interesting choices Stu. Will be interesting to see what’s on the list!

    Reply

  4. JacquiWine
    Feb 23, 2020 @ 19:39:45

    I would *love* to see Love on the longlist. Such a haunting book. As you say, it’s more about the sense of separation or distance than any kind closeness in love. The Memory Police sounds very interesting too. Like you, I’ve enjoyed others by Ogawa, so it would be great to see it make the cut.

    Reply

  5. whisperinggums
    Feb 24, 2020 @ 00:30:35

    I wish I could find time to read more international and translated books. Many here intrigue me.

    Reply

  6. Radz Pandit
    Feb 24, 2020 @ 13:21:16

    Very interesting list, Stu! I have only read two of these – Love and Loop – and both were great.

    Reply

  7. Eric
    Feb 25, 2020 @ 13:06:24

    Great to see your predictions and all your commentary on them. I really hope Love, Memory Police and Eighth Life make it as well! I’ve also been eager to read Loop and Tyll.

    Reply

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