The Shadow Booker international shortlist

Our shadow jury of bloggers and reviewers of translated fiction has completed our reading of the International Booker 2020 longlist, and has chosen our own Shadow Shortlist.

In alphabetical order of the original author’s name our chosen six books are:

The Enlightenment of the Greengage Tree by Shokoofeh Azar (Farsi – Iran), tr. Anonymous (Europa Editions)

The Other Name Septology I-II by Jon Fosse (Norwegian – Norway), tr. Damion Searls (Fitzcarraldo Editions)

Hurricane Season by Fernanda Melchor (Spanish – Mexico), tr. Sophie Hughes (Fitzcarraldo Editions)

The Memory Police by Yoko Ogawa (Japanese – Japan), tr. Stephen Snyder (Harvill Secker)

Faces on the Tip of My Tongue by Emmanuelle Pagano (French – France), tr. Sophie Lewis & Jennifer Higgins (Peirene Press)

The Discomfort of Evening by Marieke Lucas Rijneveld (Dutch – Netherlands), tr. Michele Hutchison (Faber & Faber)

Firstly, we would like to congratulate the judges on choosing a very strong longlist. There are some stunning books on the list, and almost all of them, including those that missed out on our shortlist, had their champions among us. The books didn’t always make for an easy read – some are quite graphic in their depiction of violence – but certainly a thought provoking one,

You will see that four of our choices overlap with those of the official jury.

The Adventures of China Iron impressed many of us, but couldn’t quite squeeze on to our list. Instead we chose the cleverly connected short stories from Faces on the Tip of My Tongue.

When we were predicting books on the longlist The Eighth Life was the novel we most expected to see given its undoubted popularity both in the Anglosphere but also internationally. And we had expected it to make both the official and our shadow shortlist. Somewhat to our surprise, it missed out on both – the magic of the hot chocolate clearly doesn’t work on everyone.

We were though more surprised, and disappointed, at the exclusion of The Other Name from the official list – Jon Fosse’s trademark slow prose is stunning, and it makes for a very different reading experience from the others on the list. It is a timeless novel, and we fear the jury’s not unreasonable focus on novels relevant for the Covid-19 era may have counted against it. But with the next volume due in the autumn perhaps Fosse will make next year’s shortlist and he’s also overdue the Nobel Prize.

At the other end of the spectrum, the officially shortlisted Tyll didn’t spark much enthusiasm in our panel. But the one provoking the strongest reactions was Serotonin: several of the books on our shortlist are brutal or visceral but parts of Houllebecq’s novel simply felt gratuitous. Only three of our judges finished reading it and none of those were terribly impressed by its inclusion on the longlist.

We’ll now embark on the period of further re-reading, reflection and discussion to choose our winner. We wonder if we and the official jury will see eye to eye as we did in 2018, or reach a different view as we did last year.

(Thanks to Paul Fulcher for writing such an eloquent, and perfectly summarized, post for our shortlist decision. You can find him on Twitter at @fulcherpaul and on Goodreads here.)

Winstonsdad  I am pleased with our shortlist I had just about bar a few hundred pages finished the longlist I am behind on review but have enjoyed this year list there have been some eye-opening and shocking titles that show the wider nature of literature in translation I will review the rest of the longlist before we announce our winner I am now aiming to get to the 1000 reviews in the next few weeks.

Shadow Booker international 2020

I have been asked to chair well lead us in a way today saw the longlist for the Booker international (well done missed the Man} the Shadow Jurys thoughts so i collect a few comments we have said

” This looks like a really interesting list. (Better than last year’s if we are saying that.) Glad to see two books which others have praised & which really interest me – The Eighth Life and Tyll – on there. And as usual several books I was vaguely aware of but hadn’t expected (e.g. Pagano, Anker); one of the interesting things about longlists is getting pointers to which books like this to read from judges.
Two books that are tributes to/riffs on national classics from their own countries (China Iron & Tyll) is great from one angle – these are the kinds of books that often get neglected in translation – but from the POV of being on a shadowing project, it is extra work if you like to do the background reading. (I think Martin Fierro is doable but Simplicimus is too long when I haven’t read other books from the list yet.”

Views on the long list it champions small press for the first time has a good mix of male and female writers old and new writers. A couple of unexpected titles a few favorites missed the cut

First thoughts on the list:

4/10 of the big hitters/hot tips. And a couple that was completely left field (one I had failed to realize was translated and one I hadn’t heard of at all)

As Tony observes on his blog, Luiselli may well have held sway as it’s more Latin American than in previous years.

On the list generally:

some favourites missed out but a reasonable number made it (4/10 of the most tipped books, which is better than last year and the 2 most tipped – Eighth Life and The Memory Police)

great to see small presses
an anonymous translator (for protection) is interesting and makes me fascinated to read that book

were among the comments I think we had a core of books from the blogs and goodreads list we had expected to see that haven’t all made the list. I got five on my own post but have only review two of them. But eleven books isn;t impossible we will make our own short list.

  • Red Dog by Willem Anker (Afrikaans – South Africa), translated by Michiel Heyns
  • The Enlightenment of The Greengage Tree by Shokoofeh Azar (Farsi – Iran), with an anonymous translator
  • The Adventures of China Iron by Gabriela Cabezón Cámara (Spanish – Argentina), translated by Iona Macintyre and Fiona Mackintosh
  • The Other Name: Septology I – II by Jon Fosse (Norwegian – Norway), translated by Damion Searls
  • The Eighth Life by Nino Haratischvili (German – Georgia), translated by Charlotte Collins and Ruth Martin
  • Serotonin by Michel Houellebecq (French – France), translated by Shaun Whiteside
  • Tyll by Daniel Kehlmann (German – Germany), translated by Ross Benjamin
  • Hurricane Season by Fernanda Melchor (Spanish – Mexico), translated by Sophie Hughes
  • The Memory Police by Yoko Ogawa (Japanese – Japan), translated by Stephen Snyder
  • Faces on the Tip of My Tongue by Emmanuelle Pagano (French – France), translated by Sophie Lewis and Jennifer Higgins
  • Little Eyes by Samanta Schweblin (Spanish – Argentina), translated by Megan McDowell
  • The Discomfort of Evening by Marieke Lucas Rijneveld (Dutch – Netherlands), translated by Michele Hutchison
  • Mac and His Problem by Enrique Vila-Matas (Spanish – Spain), translated by Margaret Jull Costa and Sophie Hughes

Our panel is this is last years intro with a quick edit to them all bar me

 

Bellezza (Meredith Smith) is from Chicago, Illinois, and has been writing a blog focusing on translated fiction, Dolce Bellezza, since 2006. She has also written reviews for Shiny New Books and hosted the Japanese Literature Challenge for 12 years. Her Twitter name is @bellezzamjs

 

David Hebblethwaite is a book blogger and reviewer from the north of England, now based in the south. He has written about translated fiction for European Literature Network, Splice, Words Without Borders, Shiny New Books, and Strange Horizons. He blogs at David’s Book World and tweets as @David_Heb

 

Vivek Tejuja is a book blogger and reviewer from India and based in Mumbai. He loves to read books in Indian languages and translated editions of languages around the world (well, essentially world fiction, if that’s a thing). He also writes for Scroll.In and The Quint. He blogs at The Hungry Reader and tweets as @vivekisms. His first book, “So Now You Know”, a memoir of growing up gay in Mumbai in the 90s is out in September 2019 by Harper Collins India. 

 

Paul Fulcher is a Wimbledon, UK based fan of translated fiction, who contributes to the Mookse and Gripes blog and is active on Goodreads, where he moderates a MBI readers’ group. He was on the jury of the Republic of Consciousness Prize (@prizeRofC), which rewards innovative fiction, including in translation, from small independent presses. His reviews can be found at @fulcherpaul and via his Goodreads page.  

Oisin Harris lives in Canterbury, UK and is an editor-in-the-making with a Publishing MA from Kingston University and an English degree from Sussex University. He is an academic librarian, and a freelance editor and proofreader. He has written about Women in Translation, Book Histories and how they can affect Book Futures as well as on Islam and Literature in the West. When not reading or writing he can be found on Twitter @literaryty 

 

Frances Evangelista is an educator from the Washington DC area who has been blogging about books sporadically for over ten years at Nonsuch Book and chatting on Twitter about the same @nonsuchbook. She has participated in a variety of bookish projects and shared reads including a Man Booker Shadow Panel for several years, and is happy to return for a second year to this MBIP panel.

 

Antonomasia (Anna Thompson) is a UK-based freelance commercial writer. She has been posting on Goodreads since 2011, and has over 700 book reviews under her belt, some of which are being imported to a new blog. For four years, she has been the main compiler of Goodreads lists of newly-translated fiction eligible for the Man Booker International Prize. You can see the 2020 MBIP-eligible list here. Like Paul, she is a  moderator in the Mookse and the Gripes Goodreads group. 

 

Barbara Halla is an Albanian translator and researcher who splits her time between Paris and Tirana. She works for Asymptote Journal as Editor-at-Large for Albanian literature, where she also covered the 2018 Man Booker International. She spends her free time reading literary fiction, feminist theory and 20th century Italian literature, written mostly by women. Her tweets can be found @behalla63

Then me

Stu Allen – NHS staff by day I work on a ward helping people in crisis and with other problems find a way back into the community. I blog at winstonsdad here! I call my self the everyman of worl lit a normal guy that loves world lit I have reviewed close to a 1000 books and cover books from 100 plus countries I start the Shadow IFFP in 2012 and have done that and the shadow booker until two years ago and am returning. I started the hashtag #translationthurs and tweet from @stujallen  

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