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2023 International Booker Prize Longlist 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 2023 longlist. 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 from all over the world and to promote and recognize the vital work of translators. The £50,000 prize is split between the winning author and translator. The shortlist will be announced April 18th and the winner will be announced at a ceremony in London on May 23rd.

This year’s impressive longlist features books from 12 different countries and 11 languages, with the notable inclusion of Bulgarian, Catalan, and Tamil for the first time in the prize’s history. Fiammetta Rocco, administrator of the prize, writes that this year’s wide ranging longlist “leaps from Mexico to Sweden, from Norway to South Korea, from China to Guadeloupe, from Côte d’Ivoire to Ukraine. Through fable and myth, stories and sagas, it proves that reading has no borders.”

The longlist thoughtfully blends the work of more established authors with books by writers new to English-language readers, including Ivorian author and journalist GauZ’; Chinese fiction writer, poet, essayist, screenwriter, and playwright Zou Jingzhi; and Swedish writer and translator Amanda Svensson. The acclaimed Guadeloupean writer Maryse Condé is the oldest writer ever to be longlisted for the prize at 86. She is longlisted with her translator and husband Richard Philcox — a wife and husband author-translator team is another first in the prize’s history.

Award-winning novelist Leïla Slimani, chair of the judges, commented on the longlist, 

“Through literature we experience the fact that we are, at the end of the day, just human beings. We cry the same. We are moved by the same things. We are all afraid, we all fall in love and we have the same emotions. And this is the point of translation, that all over the world we can understand an emotion. . . . The list is a celebration of the power of language and of authors who wanted to push formal enquiry as far as possible. We wanted to celebrate literary ambition, panache, originality and of course, through this, the talent of translators who have been able to convey all of this with great skill.”

The longlist was selected by a panel of five judges, including French-Moroccan novelist Leïla Slimani, leading literary translator from Ukrainian Uilleam Blacker, Booker-shortlisted Malaysian novelist Tan Twan Eng, literary critic Parul Sehgal, and literary editor of the Financial Times Frederick Studemann.

2023 International Booker Prize Longlist

Boulder by Eva Baltasar, translated from Catalan by Julia Sanches

the cover of A System So Magnificent It Is Blinding

Whale by Cheon Myeong-kwan, translated from Korean by Chi-Young Kim

The Gospel According to the New World by Maryse Condé, translated from French by Richard Philcox

Standing Heavy by GauZ’, translated from Ivoirian by Frank Wynne

Time Shelter by Georgi Gospodinov, translated from Bulgarian by Angela Rodel

Is Mother Dead by Vigdis Hjorth, translated from Norwegian by Charlotte Barslund

Jimi Hendrix Live in Lviv by Andrey Kurkov, translated from Russian by Rueben Woolley

the cover of Ninth Building

The Birthday Party by Laurent Mauvignier, translated from French by Daniel Levin Becker

While We Were Dreaming by Clemens Meyer, translated from German by Katy Derbyshire

Pyre by Perumal Murugan, translated from Tamil by Aniruddhan Vasudevan

Still Born by Guadalupe Nettel, translated from Spanish by Rosalind Harvey

A System So Magnificent It Is Blinding by Amanda Svensson, translated from Swedish by Nichola Smalley

Ninth Building by Zou Jingzhi, translated from Chinese by Jeremy Tiang

And if you’re looking for even more great recommendations for international literature, check out the novel that won the International Booker last year. It was the first book originally written in any Indian language to win the award and the first novel translated from Hindi to be recognized in the prize’s history.