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.

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.

The Adventures of China Iron by Gabriela Cabezón Cámara

The Adventures of China Iron by Gabriela Cabezón Cámara

Argentinean  fiction

Original title – Las Aventuras de la China Iron

Translators – Fiona Mackintosh and Iona Macintyre

Source – personal copy

I had chosen on my own list of the books I wanted to see on the Booker longlist the book Loop was one from Charco I had already read, I have so far reviewed a number of books from Charo press over the last few years. including Die my love which made the longlist two years ago and I had reviewed the other book from Gabriela Slum Virgin. So when this made the list I got it straight away. This is her last novel to be published in Spanish and the second to be translated into English. This is a historic reframing of the Classic poem Martin Fierro which is considered an important work of historic Argentinean literature.

It’s difficult to know what you remeber, is it what actually happened? Or is it the story that you’ve told and re-told and polished like a gemstone over the course of years, like something that has lustre but lifeless as a stone? If it weren’t for my dreams, for the recurring nightmare I have where I’m a gruby barefoot girl again, with nothing to my name but a sweet little puppy and a few ragged clothes; if it weren’t for the thump I feel here in my chest, the tightness in my throat on the rare occasions that I go the city and see a skinny , bedraggled little creature hardly there at all; basicaly, if it weren’t for my dreams and the trembling of my body, I wouldn’t know what I’m tell you is true

The opening of the chapter wagon from China black about her journey!

The book takes a woman that could be Martin Fierro’s wife she has a husband that has left her behind like in the epic poem. Her name is China Iron(Fierro is Spanish for Iron). She has been left in a remote encampment so when she sees the chance to leave with an English woman who is heading off in a wagon the Woman Liz is a Scottish woman fierce in spirit. The two women and another rancher Rosario looking for fertile land for his cattle. The trio well the story soon ends up as the two women as we pass through the hinterlands of Argentina. We see the wonderful countryside which is wonderfully described. As the two women draw closer Liz teaches China about the Brtish empire as the head through the pampas and fort. Then they hit Indian territory as the women grow closer the is an awakening of other feelings in them both. Later on in the book to add a twist Martin Henradez the writer of Martin Fierro is added as a character. A book that adds a feminist angle to the Argentinean classic.  It also gives a voice to the LGBT characters at a time when they would haven’t been able to have a voice.

While the land grew into a whole globe in front of me, another world took shape on the wagon. Me, Liz and Estreya were a trinty, within a rectangle strating from the oxen,, one line along the roof, another at the trunk to the rear of the wagon and one running along the ground

“Only here in the pampa could a wagon create a birs eye view, observed Liz and so I found out what prespective was and noted that indedd, the few animal thst stand out on

Later on when the wagon is in the Pampas

I really liked Slum virgin and in parts, I loved this book we have in the shadow panel talked about it and I think a deeper knowledge of Martin Fierro is maybe needed especially later in the book which with its poetic [assages and the introduction of Hermandez mirrors the poem even more. Bolano also mentioned Fierro in his book the secret of evil that had a piece about it and Pynchon also referred to it in Gravity’s rainbow this work is the Argentinean Don Quixote it is at the heart of what makes the males in argentian what they are in a way so when Gabriela takes a side shoot at this work and reframes it around the woman left behind doing something similar to what Geraldine brooks did with her work March which swaps the classic Little women from the female narrative to the male narrative of Mr. March heading homing here Gabriela has done the opposite and taken a female narrative to a great male narrative and also add a twist of a love affair and set all this against the unspoiled background of 1872 Argentina and the wanting of British to come there add many threads to this work but I still felt Had I a deeper reading of the poem I had read the first couple of pages to get a feel of it but felt a closer reading would be required. Have you read this book?

Serotonin by Michel Houellebecq

Serotonin by Michel Houellebecq

French fiction

Original title – Sérotonine

Translator – Shaun Whiteside

Source – Library book

Well, I move on to the next of the Booker longlist after a week of self-isolation which started with reading this the latest books from the French enfant terrible Michel Houellebecq. This was a bestseller in France and he was appointed to the Legion of Honour when the book came out. I have reviewed his last book which I enjoyed I found some of his earlier books grated me when younger but their premise of this one appealed as it seems to capture an effect that of moving to the country, I wonder if there is a german world the encompasses the nostalgia of moving to the country at a certain age.

I planned my departure for Monday 1 August. On the evening of 31 July, I sat down in the sitting room and waited for Yuzu to come home. I wondered how long it would take her to graspo reality, to realise that I had left for good and would never be coming back, Her stay in France, whatever else it was, would be directly determined by the two months rental notice on the apartment. I didn’t know exacltywhatr her salary at the Japanese House of Culture was, but it certainly wouldn’t be enough to cover the rent, and I couldn’t  imagine her agreeing to move to a miserable studio flat

The last night in Paris as he makes the move to Normandy,

The book is centred around the life of Florent-Claude Labrouste he is at that age. His libido is fast disappearing his younger girlfriend is losing interest and his job for the ministry of agriculture as an engineer is down the pan. All he has is the new pill he has been given for his depression. When he hatches a plan to move back to Normandy and promote the cheese a job he did in his youth. The man that at the start of the book oogles two young women at the garage. So he leaves Yuzu his Japanese girlfriend behind. He returns in his old Mercedes to retrace those places he had enjoyed in his youth but what he gets is a place changed by and damaged by time and the effect of the EU and other events in the last twenty years as he heads further into Normandy his dream of a different life is shattered and even the place has turned dark the is an unsettling section with a paedophile later on in the book as he seems to just lump the horrors of the world on Labroste as the dream is shattered and we see a middle-aged man drifting lost in this modern world.

I obviously expected that Camille would like the house in Clecy; I had a rudimentary aesthetic sense and , well, I could tell that it was a pretty house; on the other hand I hadn;t anticipated that she would also make it her house, that from the first days there she would want to buy fabrics, move fuinture, that in the end she would quickly come to act like a wife- in a decidedly un-feminist sense – even though she was only nineteen.

Later on with a younger woman but it all turns bad when the move in together.

I like Labrouste often dream of a time when life was great for me it was a time when I was both here in UK In Northumberland a time when my dreams seemed possible and then a time in Germany when life was just about perfect I had a job there and a small group of friends but this is wishful thinking and like Labrouste would it be the same if I came back now no and this is often the case what Houellebecq has done is written an Anti place in the country a true picture of all those middle-aged folks chasing that dream when it goes wrong and In France and just here the world is a different place. He does sometimes like that kid in the class have to push the point too far I felt the whole Paedophile was him pushing the broken dream just a bit too far. Well, I had intended to read this at some point so when it made the longlist it meant I got to it sooner. Have you read Houllebecq .What are your thought around him?

Mac and his Problems by Enrique Vila-Matas

Mac and his problems by Enrique Vila-Matas

Spanish fiction

Original title  –Mac y su contratiempo

Translators – Sophie Hughes and Margaret Jull Costa

Source – personal copy

So now on to the second post booker longlist read and it is a writer that has been featured on the blog three times before and his previous book Dublinesque won the old IFFP Shadow jury in 2013. He is a founder of the order of Finnegan named after a pub in Dublin a group of writers meets every Bloomsday to celebrate Joyce. This is another work of metafiction that works on a number of levels. This is his latest work to be translated to English.

I’m fascinated by the current vogue for posthumous book, and I ‘m thinking of writing a fake one that could appear to be “posthumous” and “unfinished” when in fact it would be perfectly complete, Were I to die during the writing process, the book really would be my “Final, interrupted work<” and that would, among other things, ruin my great dream of becoming a falsifier. Then again, a beginner must be prepared for anythingm and I am just that, a  debutant. My name is Mac

The opening lines and the diary is to serve as an entry to the book he is thinking of writing

This on the surface is the story of a man entering his retirement and deciding to write daily diary about his world and the world around him > The Man Mac has long held the idea of being a writer and since he know has a lit of time on his hands which means he finally has chance to write although his wife Carmen has a suspicion this will all amount to nothing. But mac push on as it is one of the hottest summer in Barcelona his neighbor Starts to wonder why when he gets a collection of short stories from his Neighbour Sanchez that he wrote a number of years ago these stories all to have echoes of other writers as he reads the.collection it mirrors his own life and then his life is getting repetitive the problem is to make is a well-read reader and the works all start to have a feeling of other writers and we see the real and fiction worlds blur and the writers writing blur. As mac dives further into a world of literature as the heat rises his life becomes more like a novel and his diary is having the feeling of a novel, not a diary.

A little early-evening prose. I’ve had my three customary afternoon nips and consulted the horrorscopr in my favourite newspaper. I was astonshed when I read this in the box for my sign. “For Aries, the sun in conjuction with mercury suggest brilliant intuitions that will lead you to belive this prediction and think it;s especially for you

Whoroscope! This time the prediction really did seem to be meant especially for me as if peggy day – the pseudonym of the lady responsible for the horrorscope – had some how gotten wind of my mistake last week

Here is one of the firstg example of how he reads more into things and blurs lines at times

I like this in Parts I love that Vila-Matras is always so enthused about other writers and the works he is a writer that use books and literature as a springboard for his works her it is the danger of writing a diary but having a wish to be a new writing talent but as the book unfold it. We see a man that is drowning in words and novels but as the book goes on the old stories mirror his present and his diary is in the trouble of drowning into a void of fiction as his life cross from the real to the fictional. I felt this was a great idea for a book the references to those great writers the book feels like an idea too far if you know what I mean it has so many twists and turns it isn’t just as snappy as some of his other books which I have loved but I may come back at some time reread it and read a lot of the books and writers that the tales are meant to be like to maybe grasp more of the story. An interesting idea that maybe could be revisited at some point. What did you think of this one ?

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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