March 14, 2019

This year’s Man Booker Prize International longlist is pretty freaking awesome


The Man Booker Prize, soon to simply be the Booker Prize, has announced the 2019 longlist for its coveted prize for best work of literature in translation. It’s a nifty list, and as The Guardian‘s Alison Flood writes, it’s a major showcase of the kind of talent being put out by UK indie publishers. Flood writes:

The “finest works of translation from around the world” are almost exclusively published by independent presses—at least according to the Man Booker International prize, which has unveiled a longlist of 13 books with only two showings from major publishing houses.

The prize, which awards £50,000 to its winners (split equally between author and translator), launched in 2004. Among its winners are Polish writer Olga Togarsczuk, who won last year for her novel Flights (translated by Jennifer Croft), South Korean writer Han Kang who won for her novel The Vegetarian (translated by Deborah Smith), and, before Americans were allowed to be considered for the English-language Man Booker Prize, Lydia Davis for just being Lydia Davis.

Following suit last year, the National Book Foundation announced the launch of an award for best translated literature, which was won by Japanese-German writer Yoko Tawada for her novel The Emissary, published by New Directions, an American indie.

“The really good independents have become the cultural talent scouts,” Maureen Freely, a judge for this year’s list told The Guardian. “Because as difficult as it is to keep a small house afloat, you can actually exercise some literary taste or personal taste in a way it is really, really difficult to do in mainstream houses. We may see this change now, though, because thanks to this prize in particular, sales for translated fiction are going way up.”

Pretty cool. And here’s the list with links directly to the publishers websites, where you can learn more about them, and also because, you know, it helps indies to stay in business when you buy from them directly.

Jokha Alharthi (Arabic / Omani), tr. Marilyn Booth, Celestial Bodies

Can Xue (Chinese / Chinese), tr. Annelise Finegan Wasmoen, Love In The New Millennium 

Annie Ernaux (French / French), tr. Alison L. Strayer, The Years 

Hwang Sok-yong (Korean / Korean), tr. Sora Kim-Russell, At Dusk 

Mazen Maarouf (Arabic / Icelandic and Palestinian), tr. Jonathan Wright, Jokes For The Gunmen 

Hubert Mingarelli (French / French), tr. Sam Taylor, Four Soldiers 

Marion Poschmann (German / German), tr. Jen Calleja, The Pine Islands 

Samanta Schweblin (Spanish / Argentine and Italian), tr. Megan McDowell, Mouthful Of Birds 

Sara Stridsberg (Swedish / Swedish), tr. Deborah Bragan-Turner, The Faculty Of Dreams

Olga Tokarczuk (Polish / Polish), tr. Antonia Lloyd-Jones, Drive Your Plow Over The Bones Of The Dead 

Juan Gabriel Vásquez (Spanish / Colombian), tr. Anne McLean, The Shape Of The Ruins 

Tommy Wieringa (Dutch / Dutch), tr. Sam Garrett, The Death Of Murat Idrissi 

Alia Trabucco Zeran (Spanish / Chilean), tr. Sophie Hughes, The Remainder 



Michael Barron is an editor at Melville House.