Man Booker International Prize 2016: the longlist

Here we go! The first longlist for the new-style Man Booker International Prize was announced on Thursday. The 13 titles in contention are:

  • A General Theory of Oblivion by José Eduardo Agualusa, translated from the Portugese by Daniel Hahn (Harvill Secker)
  • The Story of the Lost Child by Elena Ferrante, translated from the Italian by Ann Goldstein (Europa Editions)
  • The Vegetarian by Han Kang, translated from the Korean by Deborah Smith (Portobello Books)
  • Mend the Living by Maylis de Kerangal, translated from the French by Jessica Moore (MacLehose Press)
  • Man Tiger by Eka Kurniawan, translated from the Indonesian by Labodalih Sembiring (Verso Books)
  • The Four Books by Yan Lianke, translated from the Chinese by Carlos Rojas (Chatto & Windus)
  • Tram 83 by Fiston Mwanza Mujila, translated from the French by Roland Glasser (Jacaranda)
  • A Cup of Rage by Raduan Nassar, translated from the Portugese by Stefan Tobler (Penguin Modern Classics)
  • Ladivine by Marie NDiaye, translated from the French by Jordan Stump (MacLehose Press)
  • Death by Water by Kenzaburō Ōe, translated from the Japanese by Deborah Boliner Boem (Atlantic Books)
  • White Hunger by Aki Ollikainen, translated from the Finnish by Emily Jeremiah and Fleur Jeremiah (Peirene Press)
  • A Strangeness in My Mind by Orhan Pamuk, translated from the Turkish by Ekin Oklap (Faber & Faber)
  • A Whole Life by Robert Seethaler, translated from the German by Charlotte Collins (Picador)

(The tiles above will, as ever, become links as I post about the books.)

My first impressions? I’m excited to read these books: I’m pleased that there’s such a strong showing for non-European fiction, and the three titles I’ve already read – The Vegetarian, White Hunger, and Mend the Living – are all strong contenders in my view. It would be over-optimistic of me to expect to love everything on the list (though I can hope…), but I am anticipating a strong competition this year.

There are, inevitably, omissions. Particularly striking to me is that there’s nothing translated from Spanish, because most of the titles I was hoping to see would fall into that bracket (Signs Preceding the End of the World, Mildew, and The Boy Who Stole Attila’s Horse, in case you were wondering). But I don’t want to dwell on that – at least not until I’ve read what actually has been longlisted…

What I can say for now is that, at first glance, the Man Booker International longlist puts the lists of many Anglophone literary prizes rather in the shade. So please join us on the shadow panel – Stu, Tony Malone, Tony Messenger, Bellezza, Clare, Grant, Lori, and me – as we read along. It will be quite a ride.

Coming up tomorrow: read the shadow panel’s official group response to the longlist.


  1. Did you like The Vegetarian? I am attracted by its promise of strangeness, but is it too strange?

  2. Like you, I’m quite excited about reading the list this year (I’ve only read four). I’m also as mystified as everyone about the absence of Spanish fiction – couldn’t they agree on one?

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