In Translation

2020 International Booker Prize Shortlist Announced

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Pierce Alquist

Senior Contributor

Pierce Alquist is a transplanted New Yorker living and working in the publishing scene in Boston. Don’t worry if she fooled you, the red hair is misleading. She’s a literature in translation devotee and reviewer and lover of small, independent presses. A voracious traveler and foodie, you can find her in her kitchen making borscht or covered in red pepper paste as she perfects her kimchi recipe.

Honoring the finest works of translated fiction from around the world, the International Booker Prize has announced its 2020 shortlist. This year’s shortlist features titles translated from five languages: Spanish, German, Dutch, Farsi, and Japanese, with authors who hail from six countries. The prize is awarded every year to a single book translated into English and published in the UK and Ireland. It aims to encourage more publishing and reading of international fiction and to promote the work of translators.

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. The winner will be announced May 20. This is the first year that the prize is known as the International Booker Prize, after the Man Group’s sponsorship came to an end. The prize is now sponsored by Crankstart.

Ted Hodgkinson, chair of the judges, wrote of the shortlist: “Each of our shortlisted books restlessly reinvents received narratives, from foundational myths to family folklore, plunging us into discomforting and elating encounters with selves in a state of transition. Whether capturing a deftly imagined dystopia or incandescent flows of language, these are tremendous feats of translation, which in these isolating times, represent the pinnacle of an art-form rooted in dialogue. Our shortlist transcends this unprecedented moment, immersing us in expansively imagined lives that hold enduring fascination.”

The shortlist was selected by a panel of five judges: Ted Hodgkinson, Head of Literature and Spoken Word at Southbank Centre; Lucie Campos, director of the Villa Gillet, France’s centre for international writing; Man Booker International Prize–winning translator and writer Jennifer Croft; L.A. Times Book Prize for Fiction–winning author Valeria Luiselli; and writer, poet, and musician Jeet Thayil.

2020 Booker International Shortlist

2020 Booker International Prize Shortlist

The Enlightenment of the Greengage Tree by Shokoofeh Azar, translated by Anonymous from Farsi (Europa Editions)

The Adventures of China Iron by Gabriela Cabezón Cámara, translated by Iona Macintyre and Fiona Mackintosh from Spanish (Charco Press)

Tyll by Daniel Kehlmann, translated by Ross Benjamin from German (Quercus)

Hurricane Season by Fernanda Melchor, translated by Sophie Hughes from Spanish (Fitzcarraldo Editions)

The Memory Police by Yōko Ogowa, translated by Stephen Snyder from Japanese (Harvill Secker)

The Discomfort of Evening by Marieke Lucas Rijneveld, translated by Michele Hutchison from Dutch (Faber & Faber)

Interested in learning more about the novel that won the Man Booker International last year? It was a really remarkable year—and winner—in the award’s history.

Looking for more great international literature in translation?