Indies dominate 2020 International Booker Prize shortlist

Indies dominate 2020 International Booker Prize shortlist

Four indie publishers—Fitzcarraldo, Charco Press, Europa and Faber & Faber—have made the six-strong shortlist for 2020's £50,000 International Booker Prize.

Shortlisted are: Hurricane Season by Mexican author Fernanda Melchor, translated from Spanish by Sophie Hughes (Fitzcarraldo), with Hughes returning to the Booker International shortlist for the second year running; The Adventures of China Iron by Gabriela Cabezón Cámara, also translated from Spanish, by Iona Macintyre and Fiona Mackintosh (Charco), a novel exploring gaucho culture in 1870s Argentina; The Enlightenment of the Greengage Tree by Shokoofeh Azar, originally written in Farsi and with an anonymous translator (Europa), a book focusing on the 1979 Islamic Revolution in Iran; and The Discomfort of Evening by Marieke Lucas Rijneveld, translated from Dutch by Michele Hutchinson (Faber & Faber), which tells of a family breakdown following the death of a child.

Also making the shortlist are The Memory Police by Yoko Ogawa, translated from Japanese by Stephen Snyder (Harvill Secker), about the power of memory; and Daniel Kehlmann’s Tyll, translated by Ross Benjamin (Quercus), inspired by the Thirty Years War in Germany.

Chair of the judges Ted Hodgkinson said: "Each of our shortlisted books restlessly reinvents received narratives, from foundational myths to family folklore, plunging us into discomforting and elating encounters with selves in a state of transition. Whether capturing a deftly imagined dystopia or incandescent flows of language, these are tremendous feats of translation, which in these isolating times, represent the pinnacle of an art-form rooted in dialogue. Our shortlist transcends this unprecedented moment, immersing us in expansively imagined lives that hold enduring fascination."

The International Booker Prize is awarded every year for a single work of fiction that is translated into English and published in the UK or Ireland.

Also judging the prize this year are Lucie Campos, director of the Villa Gillet, France's centre for international writing; Man Booker International Prize-winning translator and writer Jennifer Croft; Rathbones Folio winner Valeria Luiselli; and writer, poet and musician Jeet Thayil, whose novel Narcopolis was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize in 2012.

The total value of the prize this year is £62,000: £50,000 will be shared between the winning author and translator, and the shortlisted authors and translators will each receive £1,000.

The winner of the 2020 prize will be announced on 19th May.