[The JRB Daily] ‘Wildly original works of literature that will captivate readers’—2022 International Booker Prize shortlist announced

The six novels shortlisted for the 2022 International Booker Prize have been revealed.

The International Booker Prize celebrates ‘the finest translated fiction from around the world’. It is awarded every year for a single book translated into English and published in the United Kingdom or Ireland. Both novels and short story collections are eligible. The contributions of both the author and translator are given equal recognition, with the two sharing the £50,000 (about R950,000) prize money. Each shortlisted author and translator will receive £2,500.

This year’s six shortlisted works are each translated from a different language and originate from a different country, with three continents represented on the list.

The shortlist spans six languages: Korean, Norwegian, Japanese, Spanish, Polish, and a Hindi title making the shortlist for the first time: Tomb of Sand, written by Geetanjali Shree and translated by Daisy Rockwell.

Settings range across Europe and Asia, from the mid-18th century to the modern day. The list is dominated by women writers, including previous winners Olga Tokarczuk and Jennifer Croft, alongside authors translated into English for the first time.

Small independent presses undertaking to bring fiction from around the world to English-speaking readers again make their mark on the list this year, with Honford Star and Tilted Axis—the publishing house founded by 2016 Man Booker International Prize winner Deborah Smith—making their prize debut.

From the shortlist announcement:

Wildly original works of literature that will captivate readers, this year’s shortlisted books all explore trauma, whether on an individual or societal level. They include: a genre-defying collection of short stories, blurring the lines between magical realism, horror and science, and addressing the very real horrors and cruelties of patriarchy and capitalism in modern society; a tale of two versions of the same person, whose choices have led to different lives, both grappling with existential questions; an exploration of the life of a young boy subjected to relentless bullying, and his friendship with a similarly outcast female classmate; the investigations of an ailing mother into the death of her daughter, where the hidden facets of authoritarianism and hypocrisy in society are explored; a tale of an elderly woman’s new lease of life following a deep depression after the death of her husband, which sees her travelling to Pakistan and confronting unresolved trauma; and the mid-18th century tale of Polish-Jewish religious leader Jacob Frank, set in multicultural south-eastern Europe, from Lviv to Constantinople.

2022 International Booker Prize shortlist

  • Cursed Bunny, written by Bora Chung, translated by Anton Hur from Korean (Honford Star)
  • A New Name Septology VI-VII, written by Jon Fosse, translated by Damion Searls from Norwegian (Fizcarraldo)
  • Heaven, written by Mieko Kawakami, translated by Sam Bett and David Boyd from Japanese (Pan Macmillan, Picador)
  • Elena Knows, written by Claudia Piñeiro, translated by Frances Riddle from Spanish (Charco Press)
  • Tomb of Sand, written by Geetanjali Shree, translated by Daisy Rockwell from Hindi (Tilted Axis Press)
  • The Books of Jacob, written by Olga Tokarczuk, translated by Jennifer Croft from Polish (Fitzcarraldo Editions)

Frank Wynne, chair of 2022 judges, said:

‘Translation is an intimate, intricate dance that crosses borders, cultures and languages. There is little to compare to the awe and exhilaration of discovering a perfect pairing of writer and translator. As a jury we have had the pleasure of reading many extraordinary books, and choosing a shortlist from among them has been difficult and sometimes heartbreaking. These six titles from six languages explore the borders and boundaries of human experience, whether haunting and surreal, poignant and tender, or exuberant and capricious. In their differences, they offer glimpses of literature from around the world, but they all share a fierce and breathtaking originality that is a testament to the endless inventiveness of fiction.’

This year the judges considered 135 books, with a record number of submissions received. The 2022 judging panel is: translator Frank Wynne (chair); author and academic Merve Emre; writer and lawyer Petina Gappah; writer, comedian and TV, radio and podcast presenter Viv Groskop; and translator and author Jeremy Tiang. This is the first time a translator has chaired the panel.

The prize winners will be announced on 26 May 2022.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.Required fields are marked *