Shortlist for the 2023 International Booker Prize released

The head of the jury called the International Booker Prize shortlist for this year “a list of remarkable variety” and “very cool and very sexy.”
Two of the six selected works this year were translated from languages that had never before been recognised by the prize: Time Shelter by Georgi Gospodinov was translated from Bulgarian while Boulder by Eva Baltasar was translated from the original Catalan by Julia Sanches.

The Gospel According to the New World by Maryse Condé, which was translated by her husband Richard Philcox, is also on the shortlist. At 89 years old, Condé is the oldest nominee for the award. Whale by Cheon Myeong-kwan, which was translated from Korean by Chi-Young Kim, Standing Heavy by GauZ, which was translated from French by Frank Wynne, and Still Born by Guadalupe Nettel, which was translated from Spanish by Rosalind Harvey, round out the list.

The list of works was described as “bold, subversive, nicely perverse” by novelist Lela Slimani, who served as chair of the judges for this year’s prize. She said, “There is something sneaky about all of them.” The question of the body is fundamental in these sensuous writings; what does it mean to be and have a body, and how does one write about the experience of the body?

On this year’s panel with Slimani are Uilleam Blacker, one of Britain’s top literary translators from Ukrainian; Tan Twan Eng, a Malaysian novelist who was shortlisted for the Booker Prize; Parul Sehgal, a staff writer and critic at the New Yorker; and Frederick Studemann, the Financial Times’ literary editor.

The International Booker, worth £50,000, is given each year to a novel or collection of short stories that was initially written in any language, was translated into English, and was released in the UK or Ireland. The winning book’s author and translator both receive an equal share of the prize money.

The judges praised Boulder as a “very intense, poetic, sensual book about all kinds of appetites” because it is a tale about lesbian love and parenting.

Whale follows peculiar events in the lives of connected characters in a secluded South Korean community. It would “fill you with awe,” according to the judges, and was a “book to be swallowed by and to live inside for a while.”

The Bible The judges characterised the book According to the New World, which is about a youngster who is allegedly the child of God, as “joyful and optimistic,” adding that it is a “deceptively simple novel full of wisdom, generosity of spirit, and the writer’s palpable tenderness towards the world and her craft.”

The judges praised Standing Heavy for “being the story of colonialism and consumerism, of the specifics of power, and of the hope of the 1960s diminishing as society turns cynical and corrupt.” Standing Heavy is about two generations of Ivoirians struggling to make a living as illegal labourers in Paris.

The judges called Time Shelter, a novel about the opening of a “clinic for the past” that provides care for Alzheimer’s patients, a “inventive novel with an unexpectedly cheeky tone to it.” It was a “fresh staging of old questions: the danger of selective memory, the inheritance of trauma, and how nostalgia can take hold of society and turn into a comfort blanket – or a cancer,” they continued.

The judges praised Still Born as the “product of a deep wisdom” and as “honest, unsentimental and compassionate about the choices we think we’re making, and the choices that are imposed upon us.” Still Born is the story of two women who debate whether or not to have children.

On May 23, there will be a ceremony in London where the winning book will be revealed. Tomb of Sand, written by Geetanjali Shree and translated by Daisy Rockwell, won the prize in 2022. It was the first Hindi novel that had been translated to receive the award.

The shortlist was revealed in response to research conducted by Nielsen for the Booker Prize Foundation, which revealed that readers of translated literature in the UK are most likely to be between the ages of 25 and 34, as opposed to 60 to 84 for fiction as a whole.

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