The Man Booker International Prize 2016 shortlist announced

14 April 2016

  • Six shortlisted books in six languages
  • Four countries appear on the list for the first time
  • The list includes one previous finalist for the Man Booker International Prize, two Independent Foreign Fiction Prize winners and one Nobel Prize winner
  • Judges praise the diversity of the list that takes readers around the globe and to the frontier of fiction

The Man Booker International Prize has today, 14 April, revealed the shortlist of six books in contention for the 2016 Prize, celebrating the finest in global fiction. Each shortlisted author and translator will receive £1,000, while the £50,000 prize will be divided equally between the author and the translator of the winning entry.

The 2016 Man Booker International Shortlist

Title (imprint) Author (nationality) Translator
A General Theory of Oblivion
(Harvill Secker)
José Eduardo Agualusa
(Angola)
Daniel Hahn
(UK)
The Story of the Lost Child
(Europa Editions)
Elena Ferrante
(Italy)
Ann Goldstein
(USA)
The Vegetarian
(Portobello Books)
Han Kang
(South Korea)
Deborah Smith
(UK)
A Strangeness in My Mind
(Faber & Faber)
Orhan Pamuk
(Turkey)
Ekin Oklap
(Turkey)
A Whole Life
(Picador)
Robert Seethaler
(Austria)
Charlotte Collins
(UK)
The Four Books
(Chatto & Windus)
Yan Lianke
(China)
Carlos Rojas
(USA)

Settings range from war-torn Angola to Naples terrorised by the Camorra, from the mountains of Austria to the growing sprawl of Istanbul and from metamorphosis in South Korea to allegorical transformation during the Great Famine in China.

Five of the authors have been nominated for the first time (Yan appeared on the list of finalists in 2013). The nominees include two winners of the Independent Foreign Fiction Prize: Agualusa (2007) and Pamuk (1990) who also won the Nobel Prize in Literature in 2006. It is the first appearance on a Man Booker International Prize list for writers from Angola, Austria, South Korea and Turkey.

The translators are predominantly female and of UK or US descent. The youngest are Turkish-born Londoner Ekin Oklap (27) and Deborah Smith (28) who only started learning Korean at the age of 21.

Three independent publishers, Europa Editions, Faber & Faber and Portobello Books, have made it to the shortlist. Penguin Random House has two novels through the imprints Chatto & Windus and Harvill Secker, while Pan Macmillan’s imprint Picador has the final place on the list.

Boyd Tonkin, chair of the 2016 Man Booker International Prize judging panel, comments:
‘This exhilarating shortlist will take readers both around the globe and to every frontier of fiction. In first-class translations that showcase that unique and precious art, these six books tell unforgettable stories from China and Angola, Austria and Turkey, Italy and South Korea. In setting, they range from a Mao-era re-education camp and a remote Alpine valley to the modern tumult and transformation of cities such as Naples and Istanbul. In form, the titles stretch from a delicate mosaic of linked lives in post-colonial Africa to a mesmerising fable of domestic abuse and revolt in booming east Asia. Our selection shows that the finest books in translation extend the boundaries not just of our world - but of the art of fiction itself. We hope that readers everywhere will share our pleasure and excitement in this shortlist.’

More comments on each book can be found in ‘Book synopses and biographies’ in the lower part of this release.

Emmanuel Roman, CEO of Man Group, comments:
‘We are very proud to sponsor the newly evolved Man Booker International Prize, which recognises the hard work and creativity of both authors and translators, and celebrates talent from all over the world. The prize underscores Man Group's charitable focus on literacy and education, as well as our commitment to excellence and entrepreneurship in our increasingly diverse and globalised business. Together with the wider charitable activities of the Booker Prize Foundation, the prize plays a very important role in promoting literary excellence on a global scale that we are honoured to support. Many congratulations to all the shortlisted authors and translators.’

The list was selected from 155 books by a panel of five judges consisting of: critic and editor Boyd Tonkin; anthropologist and novelist Tahmima Anam; academic David Bellos, Professor of French and Comparative Literature and Director of the Program in Translation and Intercultural Communication at Princeton University; editor and academic Daniel Medin, who holds a comparative literature professorship at the American University of Paris (AUP); and prize-winning British poet and author Ruth Padel.

The 2016 winner announcement

The winner of the 2016 Prize will be announced on 16 May at a formal dinner at the V & A, with the £50,000 prize being divided equally between the author and the translator of the winning entry.

Leading up to the winner announcement, there will be a number of public events featuring some of the authors and translators:

  • 18 April: Man Booker International Prize Panel with music by Lail Arad Shakespeare and Company, Paris
  • 12 May: Translation at its Finest, Chaired by Alex Clark Foyles, London
  • 15 May: Man Booker International Prize event chaired by Razia Iqbal British Library, London

For the first time, the Man Booker International Prize will be on the basis of a single book, after having joined forces with the Independent Foreign Fiction Prize last year. The prize is sponsored by Man Group, one of the world’s largest independent alternative investment managers, which also sponsors the Man Booker Prize for Fiction. Both prizes strive to recognise and reward the finest in contemporary literature.

 Full press release

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