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Wednesday, 13 April 2016

Man Booker International Prize Shadow Jury Shortlist 2016

Tomorrow the official judges of the Man Booker International Prize will announce their shortlist of six novels from the original thirteen longlisted on 10 March 2016.

The official longlist was selected by a panel of five judges, chaired by Boyd Tonkin, senior writer on The Independent, and consisting of: anthropologist and novelist Tahmima Anam; academic David Bellos, Professor of French and Comparative Literature and Director of the Program in Translation and Intercultural Communication at Princeton University; editor and academic Daniel Medin, who holds a comparative literature professorship at the American University of Paris (AUP); and prize-winning British poet and author Ruth Padel.

The Shadow Judges were happy to agree with the longlist of thirteen titles and after much reading, debating, scoring and musing we are ready to pre-empt the official Judges and today announce our shortlist of six titles.

The Shadow Jury consisted of eight bloggers, Stu from “Winstonsdad Blog”, Tony from “Tony’s Reading List”, Clare from “A Little Blog Of Books”, Lori a freelance book critic, Bellezza from “Dolce Bellezza”, David from “David’s Book World”, Grant from “1streading” and myself. Further information including twitter handles, links to blogs, background information and more regarding the Shadow Judges can be found here.

Without further ado here is the Shadow Jury's shortlist for 2016 (in author surname alphabetical order)….
  • Elena Ferrante (Italy) Ann Goldstein, The Story of the Lost Child (Europa Editions)
  • Han Kang (South Korea) Deborah Smith, The Vegetarian (Portobello Books)
  • Maylis de Kerangal (France) Jessica Moore, Mend the Living (Maclehose Press)
  • Yan Lianke (China) Carlos Rojas, The Four Books (Chatto & Windus)
  • Marie NDiaye (France) Jordan Stump, Ladivine (Maclehose Press)
  • Kenzaburō Ōe (Japan) Deborah Boliner Boem, Death by Water (Atlantic Books)

Special mention goes to “Tram 83” by Fiston Mwanza Mujila from the Democratic Republic of Congo and translator Roland Glasser, as this work missed out on making the final six by a smidgin.

Whilst I do not speak on behalf of all of the Shadow Jury members I am sure they would be happy with my view that the we acknowledge the 2016 list as being a very strong representation of translated works and the quality of the books made the selection of a final shortlist quite difficult, many of the works that have missed out would not be out of place on the official list and if they happened to be published in a prior year I am pretty confident they would feature prominently in final discussions.

Personally I can assure you that I have read all six of the works on the shortlist (plus a further five from the longlist) and although I am yet to publish reviews here for the Ferrante, NDiaye and Oe novels these will be forthcoming in the next week or so (unfortunately I have been that busy outside of the “literature” world that something had to give, and that was the writing and publishing of reviews).

As my review of Maylis de Kerangal’s “Mend The Living” pointedly portrayed, this was not one of my favourite books from the longlist, however the other Jury members have rated the work higher than myself and being one of eight judges my lower view did not unfairly impact the final rankings. Needless to say I won’t be cheering for it as the “winner” of the official or Shadow Jury prizes. Having said that, there are other Jury members who did not agree with my higher rankings on some of the other works, so as a panel we are at least balanced in our views!

I would like to also point out that the Shadow Jury has four shortlisted titles by female writers, in fact the four that were on the longlist have all graduated to the shortlist.

For interest sake my personal final six did not include “Mend The Living” or “The Story of the Lost Child” (you’ll have to wait for my review to understand why), having “Tram 83” and “A Whole Life” by Robert Seethaler (translated by Charlotte Collins) on the list instead.

We await the official judges views with interest and I will post their official shortlist here soon after the announcement.

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