shadow Man booker winner 2019

The official announcement of the winner of the 2020 International Booker Prize has been postponed until later in the summer, to give readers more time to get and read copies of the novels.

But our shadow jury of bloggers and reviewers of translated fiction has already completed our reading and re-reading, so it seems fitting to announce our Shadow Winner on the original date of May 19th.

As a reminder our own shortlist was, in alphabetical order of the original author’s name:

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)

We were collectively impressed with all of these books, indeed all six had their champions among us.

And three books in particular were so close in our deliberations and our voting that it was almost tempting to go one further than last year’s anglophone Booker judges.  But instead we’ve kept with one winner, but decided to acknowledge two books as Runners-Up.

Runners-Up:
The Other Name: Septology I-II
and
The Enlightenment of the Greengage Tree

Jon Fosse’s “slow prose”, unfolding his story in one long, flowing stream that reads with great fluidity, took us deep inside his narrator Asle’s mind and thoughts. And we were caught up in the heady mixture of Persian myth, story-telling and magic realism of The Enlightenment of the Greengage Tree, a true ode to literature and to the deeply soothing role books and stories play in our survival of trauma.

But the winner of our 2020 Shadow Jury Prize is:
Hurricane Season, written by Fernanda Melchor, translated by Sophie Hughes and published by Fitzcarraldo Editions

Comments from some of our judges:

“Hurricane Season is an appropriate title for a novel that roars into the unsuspecting reader’s mind, with its long and winding sentences, and its refusal to flinch from the brutalities of its world.”

“There is anger, pain, and the understanding of the role literature plays when it comes to compassion and empathy.”

“As author M John Harrison said of Melchor’s novel ‘…she had shown me things I needed to be faced with.’ and expanded my understanding of lives so very different from my own.”

“It unflinchingly portrayed a world apart from us and artfully created another layer of distance from subject through the use of mythologized violence. That she both creates distance and ‘makes us look’ simultaneously was incredibly powerful for me.”

“Melchor’s prose, in Hughes’s stunning translation, is raw, brutal and so, so necessary.”

“As readers and intrepid voyagers down Melchor’s Dante-like vision, we are like riveted inmates, incarcerated either by law or by economics or gender, who stand to witness the depravity, despair and pain being inflicted upon this part of the world. The real evidence and reward here is not in unmasking the Witch’s killer or killers or in finding out why this happened, the true recompense of Melchor’s novel is to pay tribute by listening to the dead’s testimony,‘there is no treasure in there, no gold or silver or diamonds or anything more than a searing pain that refuses to go away.’“

And our congratulations extend to the publisher Fitzcarraldo Editions who provided two of our top three, and also now have two Shadow Prize wins in three years.

I would love to thank the fellow shadow Jury People for letting me join them I have dropped behind and have to review our winner but its be great to be involved again in these strange new times of ours.

Now it’s over to the official jury for their decision.

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  

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.

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