Six books shortlisted for Man Booker International Prize

LONDON—Two past winners were among the six authors whose books were placed on the shortlist for the Man Booker International Prize on Thursday.

The prize recognizes literary works translated into English and published in Britain. It is distinct from the Man Booker Prize, which is awarded to works originally published in English.

The award comes with a cash prize of 50,000 British pounds, or about $ 90,000 (Cdn), which is split equally between the author and their translators.

The 2018 nominees are:

  • French author Virginie Despentes’ Vernon Subutex 1, about a down-and-out former music store owner in Paris (translated by Frank Wynne).
  • Iraqi author Ahmed Saadawi’s Frankenstein in Baghdad, a reimagining of Mary Shelley’s monster tale set in the aftermath of the United States’ invasion of Iraq (translated by Jonathan Wright).
  • Polish author Olga Tokarczuk’s Flights, a philosophical meditation on modern-day travel (translated by Jennifer Croft).

“This is a shortlist emblematic of the many adventures of fiction — its making and reading,” Lisa Appignanesi, chairwoman of the 2018 Man Booker International Prize judging panel, said in a statement. “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.”

Among the six shortlisted authors, Kang and Smith previously won the prize in 2016 for The Vegetarian; and Krasznahorkai won in 2015, before the prize’s format was changed.

The Booker Prize Foundation changed the focus of the international award that year to recognize a single book of fiction translated into English and published in Britain. Since 2005, the prize had been awarded to an author for an entire body of work.

This year’s list is also dominated by books from independent publishers, with two books from Tuskar Rock Press, and one each from Fitzcarraldo Editions, MacLehose Press, Oneworld and Portobello Books.

Last year’s Man Booker International Prize went to Israeli author David Grossman and translator Jessica Cohen for A Horse Walks Into a Bar, about a comedian’s stand-up routine gone wrong.

The winner of this year’s award will be announced May 22 at a ceremony at London’s Victoria and Albert Museum.