It’s heartening to see that readers have developed more of a taste for translated fiction lately. A recent study shows that in 2018 there was a 20% rise in sales of translated literature. This includes appearances on the best seller lists from familiar names like Haruki Murakami and Elena Ferrante, but also some newer names like Sayaka Murata and Elena Varvello. In tandem or maybe because of this there’s been a growing interest for the Man Booker International Prize which has grown in prominence since its inception a few years ago. I’ve seen a number of prediction lists for what might be on this year’s prize and I think many will be surprised by the titles which have actually made this year’s list.

I’m glad to see there’s a broad spectrum of books from around the world represented on the list as a whole. Past years have been somewhat Europe-centric, but this list includes titles from Central America, South America, the Middle East and Asia as well as books from European countries. There’s also a good gender balance of authors represented with eight female authors on the list. So I think a lot of people will be very happy with the judges’ selections and enjoy exploring many of the surprises it contains. One slight downside is that two of the titles “The Pine Islands” and “The Faculty of Dreams” won’t be published in the UK until after the shortlist announcement on April 9th so if they don’t make that reduced list it’ll be a shame people don’t have access to them now.

I’ve only read the books by past nominee Samanta Schweblin and the newest title from last year’s winner Olga Tokarczuk. But I’ve heard of a few of the books on the list from authors Annie Ernaux, Hwang Sok-yong, Jokha Alharthi and Juan Gabriel Vasquez. With less than a month to go before the shortlist is announced on April 9th I think it’s highly unlikely I’ll read all these books but I’m most keen to read “The Years” which topped several people’s best books of the year lists last year and “Celestial Bodies” which I’ve seen some rave reviews for. Since it’s book prize season there’s a lot on my TBR pile but I’m really hoping to read several of these before the winner is announced on May 21st.

What books from this list are you drawn to? Have you read any which you’d really root for to win? Let me know in the comments below!


Celestial Bodies by Jokha Alharthi (Oman), translated from Arabic by Marilyn Booth

Love in the New Millennium by Can Xue (China), translated by Annelise Finegan Wasmoen

The Years by Annie Ernaux (France), translated by Alison Strayer

At Dusk by Hwang Sok-yong (South Korea), translated by Sora Kim-Russell

Jokes for the Gunmen by Mazen Maarouf (Iceland and Palestine), translated from Arabic by Jonathan Wright

Four Soldiers by Hubert Mingarelli (France), translated from French by Sam Taylor

The Pine Islands by Marion Poschmann (Germany), translated by Jen Calleja

Mouthful of Birds by Samanta Schweblin (Argentina and Italy), translated from Spanish by Megan McDowell

The Faculty of Dreams by Sara Stridsberg (Sweden), translated by Deborah Bragan-Turner

Drive Your Plow Over the Bones of the Dead by Olga Tokarczuk (Poland), translated by Antonia Lloyd-Jones

The Shape of the Ruins by Juan Gabriel Vásquez (Colombia), translated from Spanish by Anne McLean

The Death of Murat Idrissi by Tommy Wieringa (Netherlands), translated by Sam Garrett

The Remainder by Alia Trabucco Zerán (Chile and Italy), translated from Spanish by Sophie Hughes

AuthorEric Karl Anderson
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