London: The International Booker Prize Names Its Shortlist

In News by Porter Anderson

Novels originating in Dutch, German, Korean, Portuguese, Spanish, and Swedish are in contention for the 2024 International Booker Prize.

Image: Booker Prize Foundation

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

‘When Territory Is Claimed, Disturbed and Disputed’
In its announcement today (April 9), the United Kingdom’s Booker Prize Foundation has released a six-language shortlist for the 2024 edition of the International Booker Prize.

Here are novels originating in Dutch, German, Korean, Portuguese, Spanish, and Swedish. They’re from Argentina, Brazil, Germany, the Netherlands, South Korea, and Sweden.

Publishing Perspectives‘ internationalist trade publishing-industry audience knows that this is not the Booker Prize for Fiction, but its younger brother, an award for fiction in translation.

  • Five of the books on this shortlist are published by independent presses, including two from Scribe UK.
  • Reflecting the synergy that frequently exists between translated and independent houses, independent presses have won the prize six of eight times since 2016.
  • Itamar Viera Junior is shortlisted for his debut novel, Crooked Plow, and Hwang Sok-yong is shortlisted for his ninth book translated into English.
  • Previously longlisted authors Hwang and Jenny Erpenbeck and translator Sora Kim-Russell progress to the shortlist for the first time.

The £50,000 prize (US$63,273) is to be split into £25,000 (US$31,636) for the author and £25,000 for the translator—or divided equally between multiple translators. There also is a purse of £5,000 (US$6,327) for each of the shortlisted titles: £2,500 (US$3,163) for the author and £2,500 for the translator or, again, divided equally between multiple translators.

Since its first recipient was named in 2005—and until 2015 the honor was conferred only every other year—the International Booker Prize has become the world’s leading recognition of its kind, a pace-setting award known for its equal acknowledgment of authors and translators. This prize is also the inspiration for other similar awards, including the United States’ National Book Awards’ Translated Literature category, announced in January 2018 by chair David Steinberger and then-director Lisa Lucas in New York.

This shortlist has been made from the 13-title longlist of March. That list in turn was drawn from 149 books published in the United Kingdom and/or Ireland between May 1, 2023, and April 30. Submissions are made by publishers.

The original languages with the most books submitted at the beginning of this prize cycle were French (26 books), Spanish (21), Japanese (15), German (12), Italian (eight), and Arabic (eight).

The International Booker Prize 2024 ceremony will take place on May 21, held for the first time in Turbine Hall at London’s Tate Modern.

The 2024 International Booker Prize Shortlist
Title Original Language Author Author Nationality Translator(s) Translator Nationality UK Publisher/Imprint
Not a River Spanish Selva Almada Argentinian Annie McDermott British Charco Press
Kairos German Jenny Erpenbeck German Michael Hofmann German Granta Books
The Details Swedish Ia Genberg Swedish Kira Josefsson Swedish Hachette / Headline / Wildfire Books
Mater 2-10 Korean Hwang Sok-yong Korean Sora Kim-Russell and Youngjae Josephine Bae Korean-American and Korean Scribe Publications UK
What I’d Rather Not Think About Dutch Jente Posthuma Dutch Sarah Timmer Harvey Australian Scribe Publications UK
Crooked Plow Portuguese Itamar Vieira Junor Brazilian Johnny Lorenz American Penguin Random House / Verso Fiction
‘Vast Geographies of the Mind’

The jury this year comprises:

  •  Eleanor Wachtel as chair
  • Poet Natalie Diaz
  • Novelist Romesh Gunesekera
  • Visual artist William Kentridge
  • Writer, editor and translator Aaron Robertson

Eleanor Wachtel

In a prepared statement for today’s announcement, Wachtel is quoted, saying, in part, “Reading is a necessary enlargement of human experience. Why be confined to one perspective, one life? Novels carry us to places where we might never set foot and connect us with new sensations and memories.

“Our shortlist opens onto vast geographies of the mind, often showing lives lived against the backdrop of history or, more precisely, interweaving the intimate and the political in radically original ways.

“These books bear the weight of the past while at the same time engaging with current realities of racism and oppression, global violence and ecological disaster. Some seem altogether timeless in their careful and vivid accounts of the dynamics of family, love and heartbreak, trauma and grief.

The six books shortlisted for the International Booker Prize 2024 cast a forensic eye on divided families and divided societies, revisiting pasts both recent and distant to help make sense of the present and exploring what happens when territory is claimed, disturbed and disputed.”

Fiammetta Rocco

And Fiammetta Rocco, the administrator of the International Booker, says, “Reading 149 books in six months takes courage. The judges … rose brilliantly to the challenge of tackling the largest number of books ever submitted for the prize. …

“The judging panel will meet one last time, in London, next month to choose the winner for 2024.”

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

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.