In Translation

2023 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 2023 shortlist. 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 winning title will be announced at a ceremony at Sky Garden in London on May 23rd.

This year’s thrilling shortlist — that the judges called bold, subversive, and sexy —features books originating from six countries across four continents and thoughtfully blends the work of more established authors with books by writers new to English-language readers, including two debut novels, one from Ivorian author and journalist GauZ’ and one from South Korean novelist, screenwriter, and director Cheon Myeong-kwan. These debut novels share the list with writers like acclaimed Guadeloupean writer Maryse Condé, widely considered the “Grande Dame of Caribbean literature.” 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. And independent presses continue to dominate the shortlist as they did the longlist. 

Award-winning novelist Leïla Slimani, chair of the judges, commented on the shortlist, “What is extraordinary about literature is that when a novel is successful, it works with anyone, anywhere. There’s something really magical about storytelling. And we have had the joy of experiencing this by reading the books on this list. We have been caught up in these stories, dazzled, fascinated and it is these emotions that we want to share. I’m very happy to offer this list to readers — a list of remarkable variety, where they will find poetry, fantasy, eroticism and metaphysics.”

The shortlist 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 Shortlist

Boulder by Eva Baltasar, translated from Catalan by Julia Sanches

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

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

And if you’re looking for even more great recommendations for international literature, check out this year’s complete longlist. It was a thrilling list with 12 different countries and 11 languages represented, with the notable inclusion of Bulgarian, Catalan, and Tamil for the first time in the prize’s history.