Man Booker International Prize 2018 – Predictions

Though I have decided not to be part of the shadow jury this year, this does not mean that the Man Booker International Prize has been forgotten. At this time of year, with the long list announcement a fortnight away, thoughts turn to which books might be selected. The book must have been published in the UK between the 1st of May 2017 and the 30th April 2018, the book’s writer and translator must be living, and reprinted translations or new translations of a work which has already been translated are not eligible. (This year I discovered a new rule from previous juror Daniel Hahn via Tony Malone – books translated by one of the jurors (in this case Peter Stamm’s To the Back of Beyond translated by Michael Hofmann) may not be entered).

Previous Winners

Two recent winners (in discussing the prize in its present form I will consider it as a continuation of the Independent Foreign Fiction Prize) – Han Kang and Jenny Erpenbeck – are likely to reappear. The fact that both books (The White Book and Go Went Gone) are quite different to the author’s previous work will hopefully be in their favour. The ever-present Orhan Pamuk, who won the first IFFP in 1990, also had a new novel, The Red-Haired Woman, published last year. His two previous novels were tedious and self-indulgent but were still listed, so this (apparently slightly better, and at least shorter) has to have a chance. 2004 winner, Javier Cercas, may also make a (more welcome) appearance with The Imposter.

Previously Shortlisted

Both Haruki Murakami and Daniel Kehlman were short-listed in 2015 and have books eligible again this year (Men Without Women and You Should Have Left). The latter is short but impressive and may have a chance despite lacking press coverage; Murakami has the opposite problem, now so well known there may seem little point in listing him for a prize he is unlikely to win. Karl Knausgaard was short-listed for the second part of My Struggle (the first part only made the longlist); parts 3-5 have been conspicuously ignored. He has three eligible books this year from his Seasons Quartet but I suspect his best chance is the final volume of My Struggle in 2019. In contrast, I will be very surprised if Dasa Drndic’s Belladonna is omitted – especially as I still think she should have won the prize in 2013 with Trieste. (Note: I will now be less surprised if Belladonna isn’t chosen as it was, in fact, published just before the end of April and therefore eligible last year – thanks, again, to Daniel Hahn for keeping everyone right!)

Previously Longlisted

Hamid Ismailov, who was previously selected for The Dead Lake, has a new novel, The Devil’s Dance, out next week. (This would also mean some well-deserved recognition for Tilted Axis Press). Larent Binet (The 7th Function of Language), Bernardo Atxaga (Nevada Days) and Laszlo Kraznahorkai (The World Goes On) are all possibilities. Dag Solstad has two books coming out this year but neither will appear in time; and shadow jurors may be relieved to hear the same applies to Yan Lianke.

New to the Prize

Though absent last year, Peirene Press have a good record of being represented and one of The Orange Grove by Larry Tremblay, Soviet Milk by Nora Ikstena and Dance by the Canal by Kerstin Hensel (which I haven’t read but has been suggested by others) might well appear this year. In contrast, And Other Stories have, up to know, been unsuccessful. Yuri Herrera’s Kingdom Cons should have a good chance (although two previous novels have passed the prize by), and I would be particularly pleased to see Iosi Havilio’s Petite Fleur feature. As mentioned before, I would love to see a Tilted Axis book included, and my preference would be Sangeeta Badyopadhyay’s Abandon. Pushkin Press’ most likely long-listee is probably My Cat Yugoslavia by Pajtim Statovci. When it comes to the entirely new press Charco it would be a pleasure to see any of their books make an appearance – both Ariana Harwicz’s Die, My Love and Ricardo Romero’s The President’s Room are certainly excellent. Any from Maclehose Press’ new Read the World series is also worth a place, with Virginie Despentes’ Vernon Subutex 1 being one I liked far more than  I thought I might. And, apart from Belladonna, surely the other certainty is Andres Barba’s Such Small Hands?

Interestingly, the three novels which I would insist on including (should I ever make it anywhere near the real jury) are all by women: Belladonna, The White Book, and Go Went Gone. I mention this because gender parity has never been achieved in previous longlists, and only 3 of the 23 winners have been female (though technically the MBI is 1:1). A more balanced selection this year would be welcome.

There is a list of eligible books on goodreads here, though this is not entirely accurate, including at least two dead authors.

You can read shadow jury stalwarts Tony Malone’s predictions here, and Stu’s here.

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6 Responses to “Man Booker International Prize 2018 – Predictions”

  1. Claire 'Word by Word' Says:

    Thanks for sharing all these Stu, it’s great to see a wide range of translations to choose from, I’m looking forward to deciding which I will read, Han Kang for sure as I loved both her previous works.

  2. Bellezza Says:

    I’m so hoping to see Haruki Murakami on the list, although I don’t consider Men Without Women to be his best work. I am reading Soviet Milk right now, which is quite peircing in it s portrayal of Latvia under communism, but it’s a bit hard for me to follow as the mother and her daughter take turns speaking with only a break in between their passages. And Orhan Pamuk is a great favorite of mine; The Red-Haired Woman was much better than The Museum of Innocence, to me, as the later became so tedious. It will be so interesting to see what is on the list come March 12.

    • 1streading Says:

      Yes, a few people have said The Red-Haired Woman is better. He was beginning to look like an author in search of an editor! I haven’t read Murakami’s latest – he is another writer I used to love but feel luke-warm about now. (That’s not quite fair -I’d read any of his novels rather than The Museum of Innocence!)

  3. Daniel Hahn Says:

    Belladonna was eligible last year, I’m afraid, but otherwise lots of strong contenders on here. (But yes, considering a book by one of the judges would be a fairly flagrant conflict of interest, so they’re unlikely to try that!) And just a slightly nerdy point – there are of course (at least) *two* winners every year; the problem with the gender parity applies to the winning authors rather than the translator winners. So far technically the MBIP has three female winners to one male, rather than one to one!

    • 1streading Says:

      I think I was so convinced Belladonna would be chosen I didn’t check – I now see it fell just inside the period of last year’s award.
      It’s not ‘nerdy’ in the least to point out it’s a joint award – I was very aware writing this that I hadn’t named any of the translators. The gender balance is hopefully becoming a historical problem anyway. It was interesting to read in your Guardian article that, when it comes to authors translated for the first time, the proportions are about equal. This bodes well for the future, with the shortlist for your TA First Translation Prize leading the way!

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