The International Booker Prize
The International Booker Prize 2020 Shortlist
Boasting former winners such as Nobel Prize-scooping Olga Tokarczuk and the acclaimed South Korean author Han Kang, the International Booker Prize is awarded to the year’s finest book in English translation. From post-revolutionary Iran to a sinister future Japan, via Germanic folklore, Dutch magic realism, Mexican fable and queer Argentinian epic, this year's shortlist brilliantly demonstrates how national storytelling traditions can have triumphant, universal appeal. The winner of this year's International Booker prize will be crowned on Tuesday 19 May.
Storytelling at its most ravishing, The Enlightenment of the Greengage Tree maps the story of one family in search of safety and intellectual freedom in the aftermath the of the 1979 Islamic Revolution in Iran. Narrated by the ghost of the family’s 13-year-old daughter Bahar, The Enlightenment of the Greengage Tree renders a stunning and reverent meditation on the indestructible bond between the living and the dead, leading the reader into breath-taking worlds of imagination and allegory.
Moving through the Argentine Pampas like a storm, The Adventures of China Iron charts the spellbinding journey of its eponymous protagonist, the abandoned wife of La Gaucho Martín Fierro, with her newly found friend and lover Liz. Riotous, fierce and unflinching, Camara’s feminist, LGBT and postcolonial take on the characters of Hernández’s epic poem sets some severe literary and historical wrongs to right in this razor-sharp, exceptional piece of literary fiction.
A breathtaking tour de force inspired by an ancient Germanic folktale, Tyll recalls the grandeur of Romanticism and the sly darkness of traditional fairy tale. A macabre tale of courtly tricksters and provincial bogeymen, Kehlmann’s spellbinding reimagining is one of the most remarkable reads of the year.
Hurricane Season is a stunning, unsparing depiction of small-town claustrophobia in a Mexican village, crippled by violent mythologies feeding misogyny and femicide. Fernanda Melchor writes with the savage force that the themes of her work demand, portraying the demons of contemporary Mexico – prejudice, superstition, corruption and sexual terrorism – while still allowing her prose to shine with elating lyricism.
Written with an understated power and quiet lyricism, Ogawa’s dystopian fable presents a future society where memory is malleable and recollection can vanish in an instant. A nuanced meditation on the loss of identity and the transience of the self, The Memory Police is a devastating novel of rare prescience from one of Japan’s greatest writers.
Intensely tactile, lyrical and raw, The Discomfort of Evening explores life in a restrictively religious home through the eyes of ten-year-old Jas, who has a unique sensitivity to the world around her. A literary sensation in her native Netherlands, Marieke Lucas Rijneveld's debut carries its heavy themes with confidence, in compelling and wildly beautiful prose.
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