The Man Booker International Prize longlist, 2018 has been released and we can’t wait to get our hands on many of these books.

The Man Booker International Prize was originally a bi-annual prize awarded to authors writing in any language and belonging to any nation. Now, however, it is an annual literary award, meant only for work translated into English. It carries a hefty sum of £50,000 that is split equally between the author and the translator.

It is a pity that Indian literature has not been represented, but let’s hope that we see some Indian authors on the list next year.


The 7th Function of Language

Laurent Binet, Sam Taylor (Tr.)

This interesting fictional thriller takes the true story of Roland Barthes’ accidental death and turns it on its head. It explores the idea that he may have been assassinated as he was carrying a document which spoke of the 7th function of language and gave the person in possession of it the magical power to control anyone in the world. Expect to meet some literary greats like Umberto Eco and Noam Chomsky in this novel.

Buy it here.


The Impostor

Javier Cercas, Frank Wynne (Tr.)

This non-fiction work tells the story of one of the world’s greatest impostors, Enric Marco. Marco gained fame as he claimed to be a Holocaust survivor and told many stories of his suffering and bravery. He also became the president of Amical de Mauthausen, the Spanish association of Nazi victims. Finally, in 2005, on the eve of the 60th-anniversary celebration of the liberation of the Mauthausen concentration camp, he was unmasked as an impostor. Cercas gets into his mind and explores whether Marco was just a charlatan, or some sort of self-deluding, self-aggrandising victim of mental imbalance.

Buy it here.


Vernon Subutex 1

Virginie Despentes, Frank Wynne (Tr.)

The first in a trilogy, this book tells the story of Vernon Subutex, the owner of a thriving, but infamous music shop, Revolver, located in Paris’ historical Bastille area. The age of the Internet causes his sales to slow down, leading him to ultimately shut shop, and end up on the streets. Just before his access to the Internet is cut off, he claims on Facebook that he has the last filmed recording of a recently deceased music star, Alex Bleach. This leads to a multitude of characters including porn stars and a lesbian investigator using their skills to track down the now missing Subutex.

Buy it here.


Go, Went, Gone

Jenny Erpenbeck, Susan Bernofsky (Tr.)

Although a fictional story, this book is incredibly relevant today as it explores the plight of refugees from Third World countries who have to assimilate into a Western civilization, in this case, from Africa into Germany. Retired Classics professor, Richard befriends a group of African refugees who are about to lose their camp, gets involved in their lives and is affected by their plight. Through Richard, Erpenbeck showcases Western ignorance and biases and highlights the many issues that citizens of some Third World countries are facing even today.

Buy it here.


The White Book

Han Kang, Deborah Smith (Tr.)

The 2016 winner of The Man Booker International Prize for her work, The Vegetarian, Han Kang is in contention again this year for the hauntingly beautiful story of her sister who died merely a few hours after she was born. The colour white plays a significant role in the book, as Kang narrates her dead sister’s story through the white items relevant to a baby such as white swaddle cloths and breast milk. She ultimately ties in her reflections on the effects of strife and death. Kang was inspired by the war-torn city of Warsaw, where she wrote this book while on a writer’s retreat.

Buy it here.


Die, My Love

Ariana Harwicz, Sarah Moses & Carolina Orloff (Tr.)

Brilliantly exploring the extremes of emotions a person may feel, and the dual nature of their desires, this book is the fictional story of a woman living in the French countryside. She battles her inner demons, her intense love and hatred for her family, and most importantly, for the child she never wanted. Exploring loneliness despite being surrounded by family, Harwicz’s book is a superb psychological story. Interestingly, as the characters have no names, this book could be anybody’s story.

Buy it here.


The World Goes On

László Krasznahorkai, John Batki, Ottilie Mulzet & George Szirtes (Trs.)

Winner of the 2015 The Man Booker International Prize for his entire body of work, László Krasznahorkai has been long-listed this year for this collection of remarkable short stories. Unique in his style of writing, The World Goes On is introspective in some ways, and reflective in others. Traversing across India, China, and Ukraine amongst other countries, each story has the protagonist explore an emotion we usually don’t pay attention to.

Buy it here.


Like A Fading Shadow

Antonio Muñoz Molina, Camilo A. Ramirez (Tr.)

Molina’s obsession with James Earl Ray, Martin Luther King Jr.’s assassin is evident in this book. Beginning in Lisbon, Like A Fading Shadow is part-true crime and part-autobiography. Investigating Ray’s 10-day stint in Lisbon while on the run from the FBI, Molina recounts the minutest details of Ray’s journey, and at the same time recounts his own experiences in Portugal’s capital city. The book ends in Memphis, at the site of King’s assassination. Molina’s version of the story will make you feel you were next to Ray as he fired the deadly bullet which ended King’s life.

Buy it here.


The Flying Mountain

Christoph Ransmayr, Simon Pare (Tr.)

Ransmayr’s book tells the story of two Irish brothers trying to locate an unnamed mountain in Tibet. As they move forward on their journey, they get more disconnected from the world they know. Their love for each other grows as does their rivalry. Unfortunately, only one brother returns from the adventure, and he has to recalibrate everything he knows about life while dealing with his loss.

Buy it here.


Frankenstein in Baghdad

Ahmed Saadawi, Jonathan Wright (Tr.)

As a form of protest, Hadi collects corpses in U.S.-occupied Baghdad and stitches up the body parts to create a ‘human’. He wants the government to bury this ‘human’ with proper burial rites as a tribute to all the war victims. Eerily, the body disappears and an unstoppable ‘monster’ goes on a murdering spree across the city of Baghdad, targeting not only the guilty but also the innocent, and consuming their flesh. Saadwi’s work is full of horror and macabre humour, and isn’t for the faint-hearted.

Buy it here.



Olga Tokarczuk, Jennifer Croft (Tr.)

Tokarczuk combines two completely different topics like travel and human anatomy in this fascinating read; it is no wonder this book was long-listed for The Man Booker International Prize. Going back centuries, she tells stories of how the Achilles tendon was discovered when an anatomist drew pictures of his own amputated leg, and how the famous musician Chopin’s heart ‘travelled’ across continents. It also tells disturbing stories, set in the present, such as that of a woman having to travel to poison her ex-lover, and of parents whose children disappeared while on holiday, only to reappear mysteriously.

Buy it here.


The Stolen Bicycle

Wu Ming-Yi, Darryl Sterk (Tr.)

This beautifully written book is a tribute to family and history alike, as the protagonist tries to discover why his father’s bicycle was stolen 20 years ago. While on his quest, he meets an interesting array of characters such as bicycle collectors, an aboriginal photographer, World War II soldiers, handicraftsmen, and Lin Wang, the oldest living elephant! Deeply touching, this book pulls on the heartstrings of anyone who has dealt with loss.

Buy it here.


The Dinner Guest

Gabriela Ybarra, Natasha Wimmer (Tr.)

This incredibly moving autobiographical tale connects two important stories in Ybarra’s life – that of her grandfather being kidnapped and murdered and of her mother’s battle with and ultimate death from cancer while Ybarra cares for her. She investigates her grandfather’s kidnapping with a hawk-like eye for details, and studies even the smallest piece of information as she reconstructs the crime, and the time. Simultaneously, she moves you with her retelling of her mother’s struggles. From haughty doctors to the side effects of chemo, each tale leaves you heart-broken.

Buy it here.

Have you read these books? What did you think of them? Do you think any other translated works deserve to be here? Why do you think Indian literature is not represented here? Share your thoughts with us.