The Man Booker International Prize 2015 Shortlist

Every two years it rolls around. Yes my friends, it’s time once again for the Man Booker International Prize. £60,000 will go to one writer to celebrate their achievements in fiction writing. Who will it be?

For those unfamiliar with the award, it’s described as follows on the official website:

The Man Booker International Prize recognises one writer for his or her achievement in fiction. Worth £60,000, the prize is awarded every two years to a living author who has published fiction either originally in English or whose work is generally available in translation in the English language. The winner is chosen solely at the discretion of the judging panel and there are no submissions from publishers.

Below we take a closer look at each of the ten finalists, including a list of notable works that are available in translation for each where applicable. The winner will be announced on Tuesday, May 19th.

Cesar_AiraCésar Aira

César Aira was born in Coronel Pringles, Argentina in 1949, and has lived in Buenos Aires since 1967. He taught at the University of Buenos Aires (about Copi and Rimbaud) and at the University of Rosario (Constructivism and Mallarmé), and has translated and edited books from France, England, Italy, Brazil, Spain, Mexico, and Venezuela. Perhaps one of the most prolific writers in Argentina, and certainly one of the most talked about in Latin America, Aira has published more than eighty books to date in Argentina, Mexico, Colombia, Venezuela, Chile, and Spain, which have been translated for France, Great Britain, Italy, Brazil, Portugal, Greece, Austria, Romania, Russia, and now the United States. One novel, La prueba, has been made into a feature film, and How I Became a Nun was chosen as one of Argentina’s ten best books. Besides essays and novels Aira writes regularly for the Spanish newspaper El País. In 1996 he received a Guggenheim scholarship, and in 2002 he was short listed for the Rómulo Gallegos prize. (official bio from New Directions)

Notable works in translation:
Conversations / Translated from the Spanish by Katherine Silver (New Directions)
The Hare / Translated from the Spanish by Nick Caistor (New Directions)
Ghosts / Translated from the Spanish by Chris Andrews (New Directions)

Hoda_BarakatHoda Barakat

Born in Beirut, Hoda Barakat earned her B.A. in French language and literature from Beirut University in 1975, and in 1976 left for Paris to continue her education. She then worked in higher education, journalism, and research. She is the author of a collection of short stories and two other novels, one of which, The Stones of Laughter, was published in an English translation in 1994. She now lives in Paris. Marilyn Booth received her D.Phil. in Arabic literature and modern Middle East history from St. Antony’s College, Oxford University. She has translated numerous works of modern Arabic fiction, including The Open Door by Latifa al-Zayyat (AUC Press, 2000), and Leaves of Narcissus by Somaya Ramadan (AUC Press, 2002). (official bio from American University in Cairo Press)

Notable works in translation:
The Tiller of Waters / Translated from the Arabic by Marilyn Booth (American University in Cairo Press)
Disciples Of Passion / Translated from the Arabic by Marilyn Booth (American University in Cairo Press)

Maryse_CondeMaryse Condé

Maryse Condé was born in Guadeloupe in the French Caribbean. She studied at the Université de Paris III (Sorbonne Nouvelle), where she took her doctorate in Comparative Literature (1975). Her research was on Black stereotypes in Caribbean literature. For twelve years, she lived in West Africa : Guinea , Ghana , Senegal , where she taught French at various levels. She returned to France in 1973 to teach Francophone Literature at Paris VII (Jussieu), X ( Nanterre ), and III (Sorbonne Nouvelle). Early in her career, she tried her hand at dramatic writing but took to the novel in 1976, producing Heremakhonon inspired by events of her life in West Africa . It was not until her third novel published in 1984, Ségou ­ I, Les Murailles de Terre, II, La Terre en Miettes that she established her pre-eminent position among contemporary Caribbean writers. Since then, she has published regularly (ten novels to date) while continuing an academic career which brought her to UC Berkeley, the University of Virginia, the University of Maryland, and Harvard before coming to Columbia in 1995. At Columbia , she chaired the Center for French and Francophone studies from its foundation in 1997 to 2002. Maryse Condé’s novels have been translated into English, German, Dutch, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese and Japanese. (official bio from Columbia University)

Notable works in translation:
Crossing the Mangrove / Translated from the French by Richard Philcox (Anchor)
Heremakhonon / Translated from the French by Richard Philcox (Three Continents)
The Last of the African Kings / Translated from the French by Richard Philcox (University of Nebraska Press)

Mia_CoutoMia Couto

Mia Couto was born in Beira, Mozambique in 1955. He dropped out of medical school to join the struggle against Portuguese colonialism in his country. When Mozambique became independent, in 1975, Couto was named Director of Information in the revolutionary government, and served as editor of two newspapers. In the 1980s, he returned to university to study environmental biology while beginning his writing career.

Couto is the author of more than 25 books of fiction, essays and poems. His novels and short story collections have been published in 20 languages. Two of his novels have been made into feature films and his books have been bestsellers in Africa, Europe and South America. In 2002, a committee of African literary critics named his novel Sleepwalking Land one of the twelve best African books of the twentieth century. His novels have been awarded major literary prizes in Mozambique, Portugal,  Brazil and Italy.

Mia Couto lives with his family in Maputo, Mozambique, where he works as an environmental consultant and a theatre director. (official bio from Biblioasis)

Notable works in translation:
The Tuner of Silences / Translated from the Portuguese by David Brookshaw (Biblioasis)
Sleepwalking Land / Translated from the Portuguese by David Brookshaw (Serpent’s Tail)
A River Called Time / Translated from the Portuguese by David Brookshaw (Serpent’s Tail)

Amitav_GhoshAmitav Ghosh

Amitav Ghosh was born in Calcutta and spent his childhood in Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, and northern India. He studied in Delhi and Egypt and at Oxford and taught at various Indian and American universities. Author of a travel book and three acclaimed novels, Ghosh has also written for Granta, The New Yorker, The New York Times and The Observer. He lives in New York City with his wife and two children. (official bio from Random House)

Notable works:
The Glass Palace / Random House
Sea of Poppies / Farrar, Straus and Giroux
River of Smoke / Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Fanny_HoweFanny Howe
United States of America

Fanny Howe is the author of more than twenty books of poetry and prose, including most recently Come and SeeThe Lyrics, an The Winter Sun: Notes on a Vocation. In 2009, she received the Ruth Lily Poetry Prize from the Poetry Foundation for lifetime achievement. She is also the recipient of the Gold Medal for Poetry from the Commonwealth Club of California. In addition, her Selected Poems received the 2001 Lenore Marshall Poetry Prize for the Most Outstanding Book of Poetry Published in 2000 from the Academy of American Poets. Her collection On the Ground was a finalist for the Griffin International Poetry Prize. She lives in New England. (official bio from Graywolf Press)

Notable works:
On the Ground / Graywolf Press
Selected Poems / University of California Press
The Winter Sun: Notes on a Vocation / Graywolf Press

Ibrahim_Al_KoniIbrahim al-Koni

Ibrahim al-Koni, was born in Libya in 1948. A Tuareg who writes in Arabic, he spent his childhood in the desert and learned to read and write Arabic when he was twelve. His novels Anubis (2005), Gold Dust (2008), and The Seven Veils of Seth (2009) were published by the American University in Cairo Press, and another novel, The Bleeding of the Stone, has also appeared in English. In 2008 he received the Sheikh Zayed Prize for Literature for his novel Nida’ ma kan ba‘idan (Calling the distant)..In 2010, he received in Cairo the Arab Novel Award and dedicated the value of the prize to the children of the Tuareg tribes from which he originally hails. (official bio from American University in Cairo Press)

Notable works in translation:
Anubis / Translated from the Arabic by William M. Hutchins (American University in Cairo Press)
Gold Dust / Translated from the Arabic by Elliott Colla (American University in Cairo Press)
The New Oasis / Translated from the Arabic by William M. Hutchins (American University in Cairo Press)

Laszlo_KrasznahorkaiLászló Krasznahorkai

László Krasznahorkai was born in Gyula, Hungary, in 1954. He worked for some years as an editor until 1984, when he became a freelance writer. He now lives in reclusiveness in the hills of Szentlászló. He has written five novels and won numerous prizes, including the 2013 Best Translated Book Award in Fiction for Satantango. In 1993, he won the Best Book of the Year Award in Germany for The Melancholy of Resistance. For more about Krasznahorkai, visit his extensive website. (Official bio, taken from New Directions)

Notable works in translation:
Satantango / Translated from the Hungarian by George Szirtes (New Directions)
The Melancholy of Resistance / Translated from the Hungarian by George Szirtes (New Directions)
War & War / Translated from the Hungarian by George Szirtes (New Directions)

Alain_MabanckouAlain Mabanckou
Republic of Congo

Alain Mabanckou was born in 1966  in the Congo. He currently lives in California, where he teaches literature at UCLA. One of Africa’s major writers, he is the author of six volumes of poetry and six novels. He received the Subsaharan African Literature Prize forBlue-White-Red, and the Prix Renaudot for Memoirs of a Porcupine. He was selected by the French journalLire as one of the fifty writers to watch out for this coming century. (Official bio, taken from Serpent’s Tail)

Notable works in translation:
Black Bazaar / Translated from the French by Sarah Ardizzone (Serpent’s Tail)
Broken Glass / Translated from the French by Helen Stevenson (Soft Skull Press)
Blue White Red / Translated from the French by Alison Dundy (Indiana University Press)

Marlene_Van_NiekerkkleinerMarlene van Niekerk
South Africa

Marlene van Niekerk is an award-winning poet, novelist, and short story writer. Her publications include the short story collection The Woman Who Forgot Her Spyglass, the novella Memorandum, and the novels Triomf andAgaatTriomf was a New York Times Notable Book, 2004, and won the CNA Literary Award, the M-Net Prize in South Africa, and the prestigious Noma Award. Agaat, which won the Sunday Times Literary Prize 2007 and the Hertzog Prize 2007, was translated as The Way of the Women by Michiel Heyns, who won the Sol Plaatje Award for his translation. Van Niekerk is currently an associate professor in Afrikaans and Dutch literature and creative writing at Stellenbosch University, in South Africa. (Official bio, taken from Tin House)

Notable works in translation:
Agaat / Translated from the Afrikaans by Michiel Heyns (Tin House)
Triomf / Translated from the Afrikaans by Leon De Kock (Overlook Press)

Who are you pulling for to win this year’s Man Booker International Prize? How many of the nominated author’s have you read? Let us know your favorites!

About Aaron Westerman

Aaron Westerman is the Manager of Web Architecture for a national human services organization. When he's not busy tearing sites apart and rebuilding them, he spends his ever shrinking free time trying to keep up with his twins, reading works of translated literature, and watching far too many Oscar nominated movies.

  • Maria Giordano

    Great article…love your website !

    • Typographical Era