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Discover the Books on the 2018 Man Booker International Prize Shortlist

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Olivia Snaije found this witty
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This is a very exciting year for the Man Booker Prize as it celebrates its 50th anniversary, with a number of celebrations and events this summer marking the occasion.

While the prize is heading into its 50th year, its younger sibling, the Man Booker International Prize, has been gaining momentum since it’s initiation. It was originally founded in 2005 and at that time awarded an author for their entire body of work. The prize was changed in 2016 to award a single work in translation, and the award comes with a prize of £50,000 split evenly between the author and translator. The prize has proved immensely popular, last year’s winner, A Horse Walks Into a Bar by David Grossman increased its sales within a week by 1367 per cent.

Click here to read a review of David Grossman's winning novel.

This year’s shortlist contains a wide variety of forms and styles, Lisa Appignanesi, chair of the prize's judging panel described the shortlist saying it is “emblematic of the many adventures of fiction – its making and reading. We have mesmeric meditations, raucous, sexy, state- of- the- nation stories, haunting sparseness and sprawling tales; enigmatic cabinets of curiosity, and daring acts of imaginative projection – all this plus sparkling encounters with prose in translation.”

The shortlist features mainly independent publishers including two books by Tuskar Rock Press, with other entries from Fitzcarraldo Editions, MacLehose Press, Oneworld and Portobello Books. The list also features two previous winners, Han Kang, along with translator Deborah Smith, won in 2016 for The Vegetarian, while László Krasznahorkai won in 2015, in the prize’s previous format. On this Appignanesi remarked “We talked at length about not allowing repeat performances like Krasznahorkai and Han. But there was a sense we had to consider the novels and find the best fiction instead. And The White Book is so different from The Vegetarian that we could be talking about a different writer.”

On the judging panel with Appignanesi are authors Hari Kunzru and Helen Oyeyemi, translator and writer Michael Hofmann, and journalist Tim Martin. From their shortlist, they will select the winning work, to be announced on May 22nd. In the meantime, you can explore the exciting and diverse shortlist below, and let us know your favourite to win in the comments section at the bottom of the page.

Vernon Subutex One

An urban legend. A fall from grace. The mirror who reflects us all. Vernon Subutex was once the proprietor of Revolver, an infamous music shop in Bastille. His legend spread throughout Paris. But by the 2000s his shop is struggling. With his savings gone, his unemployment benefit cut, and the friend who had been covering his rent suddenly dead, Vernon Subutex finds himself down and out on the Paris streets. He has one final card up his sleeve. Even as he holds out his hand to beg for the first time, a throwaway comment he once made on Facebook is taking the internet by storm. Vernon does not realise this, but the word is out: Vernon Subutex has in his possession the last filmed recordings of Alex Bleach, the famous musician and Vernon's benefactor, who has only just died of a drug overdose. A crowd of people from record producers to online trolls and porn stars are now on Vernon's trail. Translated from the French by Frank Wynne

The World Goes On

A Hungarian interpreter obsessed with waterfalls, at the edge of the abyss in his own mind, wanders the chaotic streets of Shanghai. A traveller, reeling from the sights and sounds of Varanasi, encounters a giant of a man on the banks of the Ganges ranting on the nature of a single drop of water. A child labourer in a Portuguese marble quarry wanders off from work one day into a surreal realm utterly alien from his daily toils. As Laszlo Krasznahorkai himself explains: 'Each text is about drawing our attention away from this world, speeding our body toward annihilation, and immersing ourselves in a current of thought or a narrative...' The World Goes On is another masterpiece by the winner of the 2015 Man Booker International Prize. 'The excitement of his writing,' Adam Thirlwell proclaimed in the New York Review of Books, 'is that he has come up with his own original forms-there is nothing else like it in contemporary literature.' Translated from Hungarian by John Batki, Ottilie Mulzet & George Szirtes

Like a Fading Shadow

On April 4th 1968, Martin Luther King was murdered by a man named James Earl Ray. Before Ray's capture and sentencing to 99 years' imprisonment, he evaded the FBI for two months as he crossed the globe under various aliases. At the heart of his story is Lisbon, where he spent ten days attempting to acquire an Angolan visa.

Aided by the recent declassification of James Earl Ray's FBI case file, Like a Fading Shadow boldly weaves a taut retelling of Ray's assassination of King, his time on the run and his eventual capture together with a highly original, fearlessly honest examination of the novelist's own past. Translated from Spanish by Camilo A. Ramirez.

Frankenstein in Baghdad

From the rubble-strewn streets of U.S.-occupied Baghdad, Hadi a scavenger and an oddball fixture at the local cafe collects human body parts and stitches them together to create a corpse. His goal, he claims, is for the government to recognize the parts as people and to give them proper burial. But when the corpse goes missing, a wave of eerie murders sweeps the city, and reports stream in of horrendous-looking criminals who, though shot, cannot be killed. Hadi soon realizes he's created a monster, one that needs human flesh to survive first from the guilty, and then from anyone in its path. An extraordinary achievement, at once horrific and blackly humorous, Frankenstein in Baghdad captures the surreal reality of contemporary Baghdad. Translated from Arabic by Jonathan Wright.

Click here to read more about the impact of Frankenstein on modern culture: Frankenstein: The Literary Legacy of a 200-Year-Old Monster

Flights

Flights, a novel about travel in the twenty-first century and human anatomy, is Olga Tokarczuk's most ambitious to date. It interweaves travel narratives and reflections on travel with an in-depth exploration of the human body, broaching life, death, motion, and migration. From the seventeenth century, we have the story of the Dutch anatomist Philip Verheyen, who dissected and drew pictures of his own amputated leg. From the eighteenth century, we have the story of a North African-born slave turned Austrian courtier stuffed and put on display after his death. In the nineteenth century, we follow Chopin's heart as it makes the covert journey from Paris to Warsaw. In the present we have the trials of a wife accompanying her much older husband as he teaches a course on a cruise ship in the Greek islands, and the harrowing story of a young husband whose wife and child mysteriously vanish on holiday on a Croatian island. With her signature grace and insight, Olga Tokarczuk guides the reader beyond the surface layer of modernity and towards the core of the very nature of humankind. Translated from Polish by Jennifer Croft.

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I love to read, cook, and travel. My favourite books are anything Jane Austen or Georgette Heyer, but I also love non-fiction history and self-help.

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