The new International Man Booker International Prize is a big deal for literary translators, with the enormous £50,000 purse equally split between author and translator of the winning book. With the huge publicity inevitably surrounding such a major award, it is certain to bring welcome attention to literature in translation, a great boon to us and support of our work. Many of us have been thinking and writing these days about the lack of gender balance among translated authors – most recently Elisabeth Jaquette, who discovered an even worse-than-average gender disparity in translated works of Arabic literature. So it’s hard not to notice that the Man Booker International longlist announced today disappointedly perpetuates the gender imbalance so often observed: only 4 of the 13 authors on it are women. As Katy Derbyshire puts it in this morning’s Guardian, “Translated novels by female writers are the palomino unicorns of the publishing world.” So I was disappointed by this longlist. At the same time, I was thrilled to see the geographical diversity represented in it (that’s also been an issue historically, with European books dominating the field), and to see books on it brought to us by translators whose work I deeply admire.
So here it is, the 2016 Man Booker International longlist:
A General Theory of Oblivion by José Eduardo Agualusa (Angola), translated by Daniel Hahn and published by Harvill Secker.
The Story of the Lost Child by Elena Ferrante (Italy), translated by Ann Goldstein and published by Europa Editions.
The Vegetarian by Han Kang (South Korea), translated by Deborah Smith and published by Portobello Books.
Mend the Living by Maylis de Kerangal (France), translated by Jessica Moore and published by Maclehose Press.
Man Tiger by Eka Kurniawan (Indonesia), translated by Labodalih Sembiring and published by Verso Books.
The Four Books by Yan Lianke (China), translated by Carlos Rojas and published by Chatto & Windus.
Tram 83 by Fiston Mwanza Mujila (Democratic Republic of Congo/Austria), translated by Roland Glasser and published by Jacaranda.
A Cup of Rage by Raduan Nassar (Brazil), translated by Stefan Tobler and published by Penguin Modern Classics
Ladivine by Marie NDiaye (France), translated by Jordan Stump and published Maclehose Press.
Death by Water by Kenzaburō Ōe (Japan), translated by Deborah Boliner Boem (Atlantic Books)
White Hunger by Aki Ollikainen (Finland), translated by Emily Jeremiah & Fleur Jeremiah and published by Peirene Press.
A Strangeness in My Mind by Orhan Pamuk (Turkey), translated by Ekin Oklap and published by Faber & Faber
A Whole Life by Robert Seethaler (Austria), translated by Charlotte Collins and published by Picador.
For details about the longlisted books, see the Man Booker International website.
The Man Booker International is exceptional in that authors and translators who make the cut for the shortlist are also financially rewarded – to the tune of £1,000, a very nice consolation prize for the runners-up. That six-book list (let’s hope it has some women on it!) will be announced on April 14, with the grand announcement of the prize itself on May 16.