The judges for the 2015 International Man Booker prize have made some interesting choices of finalists. This prize differs from the Man Booker prize itself because it recognises the author’s whole body of work rather than a single novel. To be considered the author has to have work published originally in English or widely available in translation in the English language.
What delighted me about the choice for this year was the breadth of nationalities represented. We have authors from ten countries – some of them nations which are not widely considered as great sources of literature and where the freedom of self expression via writing, is often under severe constraint. Only one of them (Amitav Ghosh) is a name that would be broadly familiar.
The ten authors on the list are:
- César Aira (Argentina)
- Hoda Barakat (Lebanon)
- Maryse Condé (Guadeloupe)
- Mia Couto (Mozambique)
- Amitav Ghosh (India)
- Fanny Howe (United States of America)
- Ibrahim al-Koni (Libya)
- László Krasznahorkai (Hungary)
- Alain Mabanckou (Republic of Congo)
- Marlene van Niekerk (South Africa)
Of these I’ve read just three.
Alain Mabanckou’s book Broken Glass was the very first book I read when I kicked off my world literature project. The style was unusual (no punctuation) and it was packed with literary references many of which I didn’t pick up on but I loved it. I’ve since been told it’s not even his best book. Do read this if you get a chance. My review of Broken Glass is here
The only novel by Amitav Ghosh I’ve read is The Glass Palace which is a generational saga set in Malaysia and India. I did enjoy it though it could have been shorter without losing any of the impact. My review of The Glass Palace is here
The other delightful aspect about this list is that the remaining six names are authors who are completely new to me. I feel an hour with the credit card at my finger tips is approaching…