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International Booker Prize 2020: Know more about the Longlisted Books

The longlist of the International Booker Prize 2020 has been announced on 27 February. The International Booker Prize is a leading literary prize, along with the Booker Prize for Fiction. The winner, the shortlisted authors and the longlisted authors of both the Booker Prizes are guaranteed a global readership plus a dramatic increase in book sales.
The prize is awarded every year for a single book that is translated into English and published in the UK or Ireland. The £50,000 prize is split between the winning author and translator. Each shortlisted author and translator will receive £1,000, bringing the total prize money to £62,000.
This year, the judges considered 124 novels and came up with a Longlist of 13 books.
The included books in the diverse Longlist have been translated from eight languages and hail from 11 countries. The books have been written originally in Afrikaans, Farsi, Spanish, Norwegian, German, French, Japanese, and Dutch. Four longlisted books are translated from Spanish.
Three of the authors are from Latin America, two are from Asia and one is from South Africa, while the rest are from Europe. The countries/ territories represented include South Africa, Iran, Argentina, Norway, Georgia, France, Germany, Mexico, Japan, Netherlands, and Spain.
Out of the four Spanish translations, two are from Argentina, and one each is from Mexico and Spain. One of the German translations is from Germany and the other is from Georgia. The list also includes two books translated from French.
With the books being a great blend of linguistic and geographic diversity, readers are in for great reading diversity. The locales where the books are set include the Argentinian pampas, 18th-century South African veldt, the edge of Soviet Russia, post-revolutionary Iran, Barcelona, rural Mexico, the French countryside, and the rural Netherlands.
As reported by The Guardian, this year’s Longlist is dominated by small publishing houses and Indie presses.
The shortlist will be announced on 2 April, and the winner on 19 May.
Scroll down below to read more about the books included in the Longlist of this prestigious Literary Prize. Out of these books, pick up any title which interests you, and absorb yourself in reading pleasure. Happy Reading!
 
 

The Longlist includes:

Red Dog

By Willem Anker
Translated by Michiel Heyns | (Afrikaans – South Africa)

At the end of the eighteenth century, a giant strides the Cape Colony frontier. Coenraad de Buys is a legend, a polygamist, a swindler and a big talker; a rebel who fights with Xhosa chieftains against the Boers and British; the fierce patriarch of a sprawling mixed-race family with a veritable tribe of followers; a savage enemy and a loyal ally. Like the wild dogs who are always at his heels, he roams the shifting landscape of southern Africa, hungry and spoiling for a fight. This is his story; the story of his country, and of our blood-soaked history.
About the book, the judges said: “A work that reminds us how translation is a creative force that destabilises linguistic conventions. A novel of serpentine, swashbuckling sentences that capture the mounting cruelty of the colonial project in South Africa.”
Read more about the book here.
 

The Enlightenment of The Greengage Tree

By Shokoofeh Azar
Translated by Anonymous | (Farsi – Iran)

Set in Iran in the decade following the 1979 Islamic Revolution, this moving, richly imagined novel is narrated by the ghost of Bahar, a thirteen-year-old girl, whose family is compelled to flee their home in Tehran for a new life in a small village, hoping in this way to preserve both their intellectual freedom and their lives. But they soon find themselves caught up in the post-revolutionary chaos that sweeps across their ancient land and its people. Bahar’s mother, after a tragic loss, will embark on a long, eventful journey in search of meaning in a world swept up in the post-revolutionary madness.
A review in Minneapolis Star Tribune says— “Though steeped in grim political realities, the novel reads like a tall tale. […] Azar strikes a remarkable balance between the fantastical and historical fact.”
The judges said: “A wild, humorous revisitation of Persian myths and fables, filled with brutal scenes of contemporary life. A ghostly portrait of a family caught in the abject violence of political unrest.”
Read more about the book here.
 

The Adventures of China Iron

By Gabriela Cabezón Cámara
Translated by Iona Macintyre and Fiona Mackintosh | (Spanish – Argentina)

This book takes the reader from the turbulent frontier culture of the pampas deep into indigenous territories. It charts the adventures of Mrs. China Iron, Martín Fierro’s abandoned wife, in her travels across the pampas in a covered wagon with her new-found friend, soon to become lover, a Scottish woman named Liz. The narrative moves through the Argentinian landscape, charting the flora and fauna of the Pampas, Gaucho culture, Argentinian nation-building and British colonial projects.
“A feminist reading of 19th-century foundational myths, the brutality and beauty of rediscovering an already devastated world. This must have posed an enormous challenge to the translators, one they have faced with inventiveness and poise.”, the judges said about the book.
Read more about the book here.
 

The Other Name: Septology I – II

By Jon Fosse
Translated by Damion Searls | (Norwegian – Norway)

Jon Fosse’s novel is the first two parts of a larger work, Septology, that will be published in three volumes.
What makes us who we are? And why do we lead one life and not another? The year is coming to a close and Asle, an ageing painter and widower who lives alone on the southwest coast of Norway, is reminiscing about his life. His only friends are his neighbour, Åsleik, a traditional fisherman-farmer, and Beyer, a gallerist who lives in the city. There, in Bjørgvin, lives another Asle, also a painter but lonely and consumed by alcohol. Asle and Asle are doppelgängers – two versions of the same person, two versions of the same life, both grappling with existential questions about life, death, love, light and shadow, faith and hopelessness.
A review in The Irish Times says— “With The Other Name, the first volume in a trilogy of novels, Fosse presents us with an indelible and poignant exploration of the human condition that will endure as his masterpiece.”
The judges said: “A portrait of the ravages of alcoholism in two men named Asle, both painters, one who quits drinking with the help of his wife, the other who is in hospital and may never recover. A book about grief, and the shining darkness that is our lot in life.”
Read more about the book here.
 

The Eighth Life 

By Nino Haratischvili
Translated by Charlotte Collins and Ruth Martin | (German – Georgia)

At the start of the twentieth century, on the edge of the Russian Empire, a family prospers. It owes its success to a delicious chocolate recipe, passed down the generations with great solemnity and caution. A caution which is justified: this is a recipe for ecstasy that carries a very bitter aftertaste …
Stasia learns it from her Georgian father and takes it north, following her new husband, Simon, to his posting at the centre of the Russian Revolution in St Petersburg. Stasia’s is only the first in a symphony of grand but all too often doomed romances that swirl from sweet to sour in this epic tale of the red century.
About the book, a review in The Guardian states— “Life on the fringes of the Russian and Soviet empires is vividly evoked in this award-winning family saga from Georgia.”
The judges said: “A sweeping but intimate 20th-century family saga, chronicling an inheritance of stories handed down from one generation of mothers, daughters and sisters to the next, and stretching from Georgia to Moscow and beyond.”
Read more about the book here.
 

Serotonin

By Michel Houellebecq
Translated by Shaun Whiteside | (French – France)

Deeply depressed by his romantic and professional failures, the aging hedonist and agricultural engineer Florent-Claude Labrouste feels he is “dying of sadness.” His only relief comes in the form of a pill-  Captorix, a new brand of anti-depressant which works by altering the brain’s release of serotonin.
Suffocating in the rampant loneliness, consumerism, hedonism, and sprawl of the city, Labrouste decides to head for the hills, returning to Normandy, where he finds a countryside devastated by globalization and by European agricultural policies. As the farmers prepare for what might be an armed insurrection, it becomes clear that the health of one miserable body and of a suffering body politic are not so different, and that all parties may be rushing toward a catastrophe that a whole drugstore’s worth of antidepressants won’t make bearable.
Michel Houellebecq has been described as ‘France’s most important writer’ by the Evening Standard’s literary editor, David Sexton.
About the book, the judges said: “A novel about a repugnant man, and such is the level of artistry that our moral universe is turned on its head.”
Read more about the book here.
 

Tyll

By Daniel Kehlmann
Translated by Ross Benjamin | (German – Germany)

The book is set in early 17th-century Europe, during the thirty years’ war, a sectarian power struggle over the Holy Roman Empire. The narrative follows Tyll Ulenspiegel, as he travels through a continent devastated by the Thirty Years’ War, and encounters along the way a hangman, a fraudulent Jesuit scholar, and the exiled King Frederick and Queen Elizabeth of Bohemia. A review in The Times describes the book as “a clever, tricksy retelling of a German myth sparks with life.”
The Irish Times writes, “With macabre humour and moving humanity, Daniel Kehlmann lifts this legend from medieval German folklore and enters him on the stage of the Thirty Years’ War. When citizens become the playthings of politics and puppetry, Tyll, in his demonic grace and his thirst for freedom, is the very spirit of rebellion – a cork in water, a laugh in the dark, a hero for all time.”
The judges said: “This novel travels with the currents of history. In its cycles of brutality and violence, it reaches into our solitude and echoes with the power of rewritten myth.”
Read more about the book here.
 

Hurricane Season

By Fernanda Melchor
Translated by Sophie Hughes | (Spanish – Mexico)

The Witch is dead. And the discovery of her corpse―by a group of children playing near the irrigation canals―propels the whole village into an investigation of how and why this murder occurred. Hurricane Season takes place in a world filled with mythology and violence―real violence, the kind that seeps into the soil, poisoning everything around: it’s a world that becomes more terrifying and more terrifyingly real the deeper you explore it. The novel unfolds in a dazzling linguistic torrent, forming a lasting portrait of a damned Mexican village.
A book review in The Guardian says— “A murder mystery set in horror and squalor, this English-language debut signals the rise of a Mexican star.”
The judges said: “In a propulsive translation, the eight paragraphs of this novel spiral down through layers of violence, corruption and desire. A novel of hellacious force.”
Read more about the book here.
 

The Memory Police

By Yoko Ogawa
Translated by Stephen Snyder | (Japanese – Japan)

This book is a  haunting Orwellian novel about the terrors of state surveillance, from the acclaimed author of The Housekeeper and the Professor.
On an unnamed island off an unnamed coast, objects are disappearing: first hats, then ribbons, birds, roses—until things become much more serious. Most of the island’s inhabitants are oblivious to these changes, while those few imbued with the power to recall the lost objects live in fear of the draconian Memory Police, who are committed to ensuring that what has disappeared remains forgotten.
When a young woman who is struggling to maintain her career as a novelist discovers that her editor is in danger from the Memory Police, she concocts a plan to hide him beneath her floorboards. As fear and loss close in around them, they cling to her writing as the last way of preserving the past.
The judges said about the book: “Originally published in the 1990s, this novel speaks directly to the amnesiac present: a world in which things disappear, then the memory of things themselves, in affectless prose that mirrors this erasure.”
Read more about the book here.
 

Faces on the Tip of My Tongue

By Emmanuelle Pagano
Translated by Sophie Lewis and Jennifer Higgins | (French – France)

Meetings, partings, loves and losses in rural France are dissected with compassion in this superb, cumulative collection from a unique French voice. The late wedding guest isn’t your cousin but a drunken chancer. The driver who gives you a lift isn’t going anywhere but off the road. Snow settles on your car in summer and the sequins found between the pages of a borrowed novel will make your fortune. Pagano’s stories weave together the mad, the mysterious and the dispossessed of a rural French community with  honesty and humour.
On why it chose to publish this book, the publisher Peirene Press says— “This is a spellbinding web of stories about people on the periphery. Pagano makes rural France her subject matter. She invokes the closeness of a local community and the links between the inhabitants’ lives. But then she reminds us how little we know of each other.”
About the book, the judges said: “Linked short stories, subtle and delicate, rooted in the countryside of the French Ardeche. Slices of life, rather than conventional short stories, in a spare and evocative translation.”
Read more about the book here.
 

Little Eyes

By Samanta Schweblin
Translated by Megan McDowell | (Spanish – Argentina)

They’ve infiltrated homes in Hong Kong, shops in Vancouver, the streets of Sierra Leone, town squares of Oaxaca, schools in Tel Aviv, bedrooms in Indiana.
They’re not pets, nor ghosts, nor robots. They’re real people, but how can a person living in Berlin walk freely through the living room of someone in Sydney? How can someone in Bangkok have breakfast with your children in Buenos Aires, without you knowing? Especially when these people are completely anonymous, unknown, untraceable.
The characters in Samanta Schweblin’s wildly imaginative new novel, Little Eyes, reveal the beauty of connection between far-flung souls – but they also expose the ugly truth of our increasingly linked world. Trusting strangers can lead to unexpected love, playful encounters and marvellous adventures, but what if it can also pave the way for unimaginable terror? Schweblin has created a dark and complex world that is both familiar but also strangely unsettling, because it’s our present and we’re living it – we just don’t know it yet.
The judges said: “A deft dystopia set within touching distance of the present that lays bare our contemporary obsession with watching and being watched. Savagely funny and disarmingly frank about our predilection for self-surveillance, it is a novel that captures an increasingly interconnected and unhinged moment.”
Read more about the book here.
 

The Discomfort of Evening

By Marieke Lucas Rijneveld
Translated by Michele Hutchison | (Dutch – Netherlands)

Jas lives with her devout farming family in the rural Netherlands. One winter’s day, her older brother joins an ice skating trip; resentful at being left alone, she makes a perverse plea to God; he never returns. As grief overwhelms the farm, Jas succumbs to a vortex of increasingly disturbing fantasies, watching her family disintegrate into a darkness that threatens to derail them all.
A bestselling sensation in the Netherlands by a prize-winning young poet, Marieke Lucas Rijneveld’s debut novel lays everything bare. It is a world of language unlike any other, which Michele Hutchison’s striking translation captures in all its wild, violent beauty. Studded with unforgettable images – visceral, raw, surreal –The Discomfort of Evening is a radical reading experience that will leave you changed forever.
The judges said: “Rijneveld’s language renders the world anew, revealing the shocks and violence of early youth through the prism of a Dutch dairy farm. The strangeness of a child looking at the strangeness of the world.”
Read more about the book here.
 

Mac and His Problem

By Enrique Vila-Matas
Translated by Margaret Jull Costa and Sophie Hughes | (Spanish – Spain)

At over sixty, and recently unemployed, Mac is writing a diary, which no one will ever read. He is not writing a novel. Despite his wife Carmen’s proddings who thinks that he is simply wasting his time and is in danger of sliding further into depression and idleness, Mac persists, diligently recording his daily walks through the neighbourhood. It is the hottest summer Barcelona has seen in over one hundred years.
Soon, despite his best intentions (not to write a novel), Mac begins to notice that life is exhibiting strange literary overtones and imitating fragments of plot. As he sizzles in the heatwave, he becomes ever more immersed in literature – a literature haunted by death but alive with the sheer pleasure of writing.
A review in Publisher’s Weekly says— “Vila-Matas’s bouncy prose is the highlight of this lively ride through a writer’s mind.”
About the book, the judges said: “In his metafictional explorations of the tiny repetitions of life, Vila-Matas’s imagination constantly produces new constellations. A literary novel that is happy to call itself literary, born out of a compulsion to carve meaning from the mundane.”
Read more about the book here.
 
Also Read: Here is the Longlist of the 2020 International Booker Prize

 

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