London’s 2023 International Booker Prize Jury

In News by Porter Anderson

The five-person jury for the 2023 International Booker Prize is to produce its longlist in March, a shortlist in April, and a winner in May.

Members of the International Booker Prize jury for 2023 are, clockwise from upper left, Leila Slimani (image: Francesca Mantovani); Frederick Studemann; Uilleam Blacker; Parul Sehgal; and Tan Twan Eng

By Porter Anderson, Editor-in-Chief | @Porter_Anderson

Slimani: ‘Fiction Is My Home’
Today (August 16), the Booker Foundation in the United Kingdom has announced its jurors for the 2023 International Booker Prize.

And with that jury announcement, we also have the foundation’s notes on how the latest International Booker Prize-winning title has done on the market, proof in the prize pudding about the impact that a well-known and highly regarded awards program can have on sales.

The International Booker Prize, of course, is not to be confused with the Booker Prize for Fiction. This one is focused on translation, and its £50,000 prize (US$60,460) is to be split £25,000 (US$30,242) for the author and £25,000 for the translator (or divided equally between multiple translators).

There also is a purse of £5,000 (US$6,044) for each of the shortlisted titles: £2,500 (US$3,023) for the author and £2,500 for the translator (or divided equally between multiple translators).

Because it’s so rare for one of the world’s book or publishing awards to offer any information on how their accolades have affected winners, we’ll start with today’s news on Tomb of Sand.

‘Tomb of Sand’: An 877-Percent Jump in Sales

The May 26 announcement of the 2022 International Booker Prize winner named Tomb of Sand (Tilted Axis Press, 2021), written by Geetanjali Shree and translated by Daisy Rockwell, the first book originally written in any Indian language to win the prize.

  • The book’s British publisher, Tilted Axis Press, ordered a 15,000-copy reprint the day after the announcement that it had won the International Booker Prize.
  • Sales in the UK increased in volume by 877 percent compared to the week before the announcement.
  • Before the win, Tomb of Sand did not have a United States publisher, and had not been reviewed by any UK newspapers.
  • The foundation—clearly with a smile on its collective face—now points out that the book “was subsequently praised as ‘a triumph of literature’ by the Financial Times and ‘a novel of enormous intelligence” by The Daily Telegraph.”
  • The day after the announcement, the American publisher HarperCollins/HarperVia acquired the rights to the book.

Almost as entertaining as the thought of the FT and Telegraph scrambling to get up reviews is this note that “Amul, a butter brand and household name in India, shared a delightful ode to Shree and Rockwell on its Twitter channel to 345,000 followers, with its fans claiming Tomb of Sand’s Booker win a “matter of pride for India.”

And here it is:

Geetanjali Shree and Daisy Rockwell are set to appear at this year’s Edinburgh International Book Festival on Saturday (August 20) at 4:15 p.m. BST. They will be speaking onstage with Peggy Hughes. (And if you’re there this evening, the 2021 Booker Prize for Fiction winner, Damon Galgut, is speaking at the Edinburgh festival this evening at 7 p.m.)

The 2023 International Booker Prize Jury

The team now selected for the great read of 2023 is tasked with creating a 12- or 13-title longlist in March, a six-title shortlist in April, and a choice of the final winner of the prize to be named in May. They’ll be choosing a work of translated fiction selected from entries published in the United Kingdom or Ireland between May 1 and April 30 next year. There is no restriction on the number of submissions per publisher but this will be kept under review and may change in future years.

The links on jurors’ names here are to their pages at the Booker Foundation site. You can use them to learn about the work and background these jurors bring to the job.

  • Leïla Slimani is to chair the jury, and is the bestselling author of Lullaby (published in America as The Perfect Nanny).
  • Uilleam Blacker is an author, a translator, and an associate professor of comparative East European literature at University College London.
  • Tan Twan Eng is an author whose debut novel, The Gift of Rain, was longlisted for the Man Booker Prize in 2007, while his second novel, The Garden of Evening Mists, was shortlisted for the 2012 prize.
  • Parul Sehgal is a staff writer at The New Yorker and a former book critic at the New York Times.
  • Frederick Studemann is literary editor of the Financial Times. He joined the FT in 1996 as Berlin correspondent.

In a prepared comment, the jury chair, Slimani, is quoted, saying, “As a child, I lived in books. Through the magic of fiction, I was a Russian princess, a gold digger, a little orphan from the suburbs of London, an alchemist from the Colombian mountains. This is what novelists teach us and what translators offer us: in literature there are no borders, no illegals, no outcasts.

“Fiction is my home and I’m more than happy to be able to live there for several months, surrounded by friends and colleagues, to celebrate our passion for words and stories. It’s a great honor and responsibility to present this prestigious award to a novelist and to his or her translator whose talents have enabled them to be read by English-speaking readers.”

Fiammetta Rocco

And Fiammetta Rocco, the International Booker Prize’s administrator, says, “Led by Leïla Slimani, the five judges of the International Booker Prize 2023 bring a wealth of talent and global experience as writers, critics, translators–and most of all as readers.

“At the end of the prize cycle, in May, their reading and discussions will give them an unparalleled view of new fiction from around the world, written in other languages, translated into English, and published in the UK and Ireland.”

This is Publishing Perspectives’ 144th awards report published in the 150 days since our 2022 operations began on January 3.

More from Publishing Perspectives on both Booker Prize programs is here. More on the International Booker Prize is here, more on translation is here, and more from us on international publishing and book awards programs in general is here

More on the coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on international book publishing is here.

About the Author

Porter Anderson

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Porter Anderson has been named International Trade Press Journalist of the Year in London Book Fair's International Excellence Awards. He is Editor-in-Chief of Publishing Perspectives. He formerly was Associate Editor for The FutureBook at London's The Bookseller. Anderson was for more than a decade a senior producer and anchor with, CNN International, and CNN USA. As an arts critic (Fellow, National Critics Institute), he was with The Village Voice, the Dallas Times Herald, and the Tampa Tribune, now the Tampa Bay Times. He co-founded The Hot Sheet, a newsletter for authors, which now is owned and operated by Jane Friedman.