Previous Man Booker International Prize winners Deborah Smith, Han Kang and László Krasznahorkai have made the shortlist once again.
British translator Smith and South Korean author Kang are nominated for The White Book (Portobello Books) two years after scooping the prize, which now acknowledges both the author and translator.
It was revealed at the shortlisting announcement at Somerset House in London on Thursday evening (12th April) that the pair are pitted against Krasznahorkai, who won the award in its previous form in 2015, when it was awarded for an achievement in fiction evident in a body of work. The Hungarian author is shortlisted this year for The World Goes On (Tuskar Rock Press) along with translators John Batki, Ottilie Mulzet and George Szirtes.
Tuskar Rock, a boutique literary list chosen by author Colm Toibin and literary agent Peter Straus for Profile Books, is the only publisher to score two on the shortlist with Like a Fading Shadow also nominated. The novel, about Martin Lutther King’s killer James Earl Ray and his short stay in Lisbon fleeing law enforcement, was written by Antonio Muñoz Molina and translated by Camilo A Ramirez and originally published in Spain.
Ahmed Saadawi is in the running for the book which scooped him the International Prize for Arabic Fiction in 2014. Frankenstein in Baghdad was originally published by Iraqi press Al-Jamal and follows a rag-and-bone man who lives in Baghdad and sews together dead people to create a new body. It was snapped up by Oneworld in 2015 and this new edition also sees translator Jonathan Wright shortlisted for the prize.
Meanwhile, London-based Fitzcarraldo Editions gets a nod for Flights, "a novel about travel in the 21st century and human anatomy", by Polish author Olga Tokarczuk, translated by Jennifer Croft. The judges described it as "wonderfully playful and witty and ironic".
MacLehose Press completes the list as the only corporate publisher to be shortlisted. The Quercus imprint is up for Vernon Subutex 1 by Virginie Despentes, translated from French by Frank Wynne. It follows the owner of an infamous music shop in Bastille who finds himself facing hard times on the Parisian streets. Wynne had also been longlisted for the 2018 prize for The Imposter by Javier Cercas, also published by MacLehose Press.
The longlist was selected by a panel of five judges, chaired by Lisa Appignanesi, author and cultural commentator with Michael Hofmann, poet, reviewer and translator, author Hari Kunzru, Tim Martin, journalist and literary critic and writer Helen Oyeyemi.
The winner will be announced on 22nd May at a formal dinner at the Victoria & Albert Museum in London, with the £50,000 prize being divided equally between the author and the translator of the winning book.
Leading up to the winner announcement, there will be a number of public events featuring some of the judges, authors and translators including ‘Translation at its Finest’ at Foyles in London on 17th May and the Man Booker International Prize event with Waterstones at The Emmanuel Centre, Westminster, on 22nd May.
Appignanesi said: “This is a shortlist emblematic of the many adventures of fiction – its making and reading. We have mesmeric meditations, raucous, sexy, state- of- the- nation stories, haunting sparseness and sprawling tales; enigmatic cabinets of curiosity, and daring acts of imaginative projection – all this plus sparkling encounters with prose in translation."
She added: "We were sorry to have shed so much of our longlist talent, but this is a shortlist to read and re-read.”
Luke Ellis, c.e.o of Man Group, described the shortlist as recognising the “talent and creativity from around the world”.
“We are proud to support the Man Booker International Prize’s celebration of international literary excellence, as well as the important charitable work of the Booker Prize Foundation in promoting literature and literacy,” he said.
The 13-strong longlist was revealed in March.
Earlier this month, the Booker Prize Foundation attracted criticism after changing the listing of Wu Ming-Yi’s nationality on its website from "Taiwan" to "Taiwan, China", following a complaint from the Chinese Embassy in London about the labelling of the author’s nationality. His nationality has now been changed back to “Taiwan” on the award website.
The Man Booker International Prize and the Man Booker Prize for Fiction aim to reward the best books from around the globe that are published in the UK and are available in English, and are sponsored by investment management firm, the Man Group.
On Wednesday, it was revealed there would be an extensive festival featuring Hilary Mantel and Kazuo Ishiguro, to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Man Booker Prize for Fiction.