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Voilà: the Reading List for the 2017 Man Booker International Shortlist

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The 2017 Man Booker International Prize shortlist was announced today. Six books in translation from around the world were selected by an international jury chaired by Nick Barley, Director of the Edinburgh International Book Festival. The judges include the translator and author Daniel Hahn, the poet Helen Mort, and the authors Elif Shafak and Chika Unigwe.

Each of the shortlisted authors and their translators will a prize of £1,000. The £50,000 prize for the winning book, which will be announced June 14, 2017, will also be shared between the author and translator.

The books on the shortlist are:

  • French author Mathias Enard's book Compass, translated by Charlotte Mandell
  • Israeli author David Grossman's A Horse Walks into a Bar, translated by Jessica Cohen
  • Norwegian author Roy Jacobsen's The Unseen, translated by Don Bartlett and Don Shaw 
  • Danish author Dorthe Nors' Mirror, Shoulder, Signal, translated by Misha Hoekstra 
  • Israeli author Amos Oz's Judas, translated by  Nicholas de Lange 
  • Argentinian author Samanta Schweblin's Fever Dream, translated by Megan McDowell

The settings range from an Israeli comedy club to contemporary Copenhagen, from a sleepless night in Vienna to a troubled delirium in Argentina. The list is dominated by contemporary settings but also features a divided Jerusalem in 1959 and a remote island in Norway in the early 20th century. The reading list is below. Happy reading!

Compass

As night falls over Vienna, Franz Ritter, an insomniac musicologist, takes to his sickbed with an unspecified illness and spends a restless night drifting between dreams and memories, revisiting the important chapters of his life: his ongoing fascination with the Middle East and his numerous travels to Istanbul, Aleppo, Damascus, and Tehran, as well as the various writers, artists, musicians, academics, Orientalists, and explorers who populate this vast dreamscape. At the centre of these memories is his elusive, unrequited love, Sarah, a fiercely intelligent French scholar caught in the intricate tension between Europe and the Middle East. An immersive, nocturnal, musical novel, full of generous erudition and bittersweet humour, Compass is a journey like a bridge between West and East, yesterday and tomorrow. 

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Fever Dream

A young woman named Amanda lies dying in a rural hospital clinic. A boy named David sits beside her. She’s not his mother. He's not her child. Together, they tell a haunting story of broken souls, toxins, and the power and desperation of family. Fever Dream is a nightmare come to life, a ghost story for the real world, a love story and a cautionary tale. 

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A Horse Walks into a Bar

The setting is a comedy club in a small Israeli town. An audience that has come expecting an evening of amusement instead sees a comedian falling apart on stage; an act of disintegration, a man crumbling, as a matter of choice, before their eyes. They could get up and leave, or boo and whistle and drive him from the stage, if they were not so drawn to glimpse his personal hell. Dovaleh G, a veteran stand-up comic - charming, erratic, repellent - exposes a wound he has been living with for years: a fateful and gruesome choice he had to make between the two people who were dearest to him. Flaying alive both himself and the people watching him, Dovaleh G provokes both revulsion and empathy from an audience that doesn't know whether to laugh or cry - and all this in the presence of a former childhood friend who is trying to understand why he's been summoned to this performance.

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The Unseen

Ingrid Barroy is born on an island that bears her name - a holdfast for a single family, their livestock, their crops, their hopes and dreams. Her father dreams of building a quay that will connect them to the mainland, but closer ties to the wider world come at a price. Her mother has her own dreams - more children, a smaller island, a different life - and there is one question Ingrid must never ask her. Island life is hard, a living scratched from the dirt or trawled from the sea, so when Ingrid comes of age, she is sent to the mainland to work for one of the wealthy families on the coast. At the same time Norway is waking up to a modern world that is capricious and can be cruel. Tragedy strikes, and Ingrid must fight to protect the home she thought she had left behind. 

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Mirror, Shoulder, Signal

Sonja is over forty and trying to move in the right direction. She is learning to drive and has joined a meditation group. And she's attempting to reconnect with her sister. But Sonja would rather eat cake than meditate. Her driving instructor won't let her change gear. And her sister won't return her calls. Sonja's mind keeps wandering back to the dramatic landscapes of her childhood - the singing whooper swans, the endless sky, and getting lost barefoot in the rye fields - but how can she return to a place that she no longer recognises? And how can she escape the alienating streets of Copenhagen? 

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Judas

Shmuel is a young, idealistic student, drawn to a mysterious handwritten note on a campus noticeboard. This takes him to a strange house, where an elderly invalid man requires a paid companion, to argue with and read to him. But there is someone else in the house, too...A woman, who is trailed by ghosts from her past. Shmuel is captivated by her, a sexual obsession which evolves into gentle love and devotion; and he is pulled to the old man, an intellectual obsession which also evolves into gentle love and devotion. Shmuel begins to uncover the house's tangled history and, in doing so, reaches an understanding that harks back not only to the beginning of the Jewish-Arab conflict, but also the beginning of Jerusalem itself - to Christianity, to Judaism, to Judas. 

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Journalist, globe trotter and food lover

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