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International Booker Prize > 2018 MBI longlist and shortlist discussion

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message 1: by Paul (last edited Mar 13, 2018 01:50AM) (new)

Paul Fulcher (fulcherkim) | 8732 comments The list (links courtesy of Hugh)

The 7th Function of Language by Laurent Binet Laurent Binet (France), Sam Taylor, The 7th Function of Language (Harvill Secker)

The Impostor (MacLehose Press Editions Book 9) by Javier Cercas Javier Cercas (Spain), Frank Wynne, The Impostor (MacLehose Press)

Vernon Subutex, 1 (Vernon Subutex, #1) by Virginie Despentes Virginie Despentes (France), Frank Wynne, Vernon Subutex, 1 (MacLehose Press)

Go, Went, Gone by Jenny Erpenbeck Jenny Erpenbeck (Germany), Susan Bernofsky, Go, Went, Gone (Portobello Books)

The White Book by Han Kang Han Kang (South Korea), Deborah Smith, The White Book (Portobello Books)

Die, My Love by Ariana Harwicz Ariana Harwicz (Argentina), Sarah Moses & Carolina Orloff, Die, My Love (Charco Press)

The World Goes On by László Krasznahorkai László Krasznahorkai (Hungary), John Batki, Ottilie Mulzet & George Szirtes, The World Goes On (Tuskar Rock Press)

Like a Fading Shadow A Novel by Antonio Muñoz Molina Antonio Muñoz Molina (Spain), Camilo A. Ramirez, Like a Fading Shadow (Tuskar Rock Press)

The Flying Mountain by Christoph Ransmayr Christoph Ransmayr (Austria), Simon Pare, The Flying Mountain (Seagull Books)

Frankenstein in Baghdad by Ahmed Saadawi Ahmed Saadawi (Iraq), Jonathan Wright, Frankenstein in Baghdad (Oneworld)

Flights by Olga Tokarczuk Olga Tokarczuk (Poland), Jennifer Croft, Flights (Fitzcarraldo Editions)

The Stolen Bicycle by Wu Ming-Yi Wu Ming-Yi (Taiwan), Darryl Sterk, The Stolen Bicycle (Text Publishing)

The Dinner Guest by Gabriela Ybarra Gabriela Ybarra (Spain), Natasha Wimmer, The Dinner Guest (Harvill Secker)


message 2: by Neil (new)

Neil | 1884 comments Looks a fascinating list, but I think I am going to have to wait for it to become a short list before I start reading.


message 3: by Paul (last edited Mar 12, 2018 07:29AM) (new)

Paul Fulcher (fulcherkim) | 8732 comments First thoughts:

- Happy!

- 5 I have read and all very strong

- 8 of the 13 I predicted

- the only one I really thought 'had' to make it but didn't is Such Small Hands: surprised that isn't there

- of the 5 I didn't guess, 2 were on my radar (Meike had championed Vernon S and Tony the chair of the shadow jury Like a Fading Shadow) but 3 are new to me: The Dinner Guest, The Stolen Bicycle, The Flying Mountain

So seems a great mix

And I am contractually obliged to read the lot before the shortlist is announced


message 4: by Louise (new)

Louise | 222 comments Interesting - I'm listening to Frankenstein in Baghdad at the moment, and two of the others are on hold from the library.


message 5: by Paul (new)

Paul Fulcher (fulcherkim) | 8732 comments On the omissions, sad for Tilted Axis (Devil's Dance deserved a slot) and Peirene Press's winning run as now turned into a 2 year losing one. And still surprised by Such Small Hands.

But that all pales besides the omission of .... Lullaby!!


Gumble's Yard - Golden Reviewer | 5382 comments Paul wrote: "But that all pales besides the omission of .... Lullaby!!"

If (see the thread somewhere else - I think its on the Women's Prize) the nascent campaign for the Costa Prize to add a best translated category works - then Lullaby would be nailed on I think.


message 7: by Carl (last edited Mar 12, 2018 08:29AM) (new)

Carl (catamite) | 117 comments Well done Paul on guessing 8 of them.

I'm so glad Lullaby didn't make it. Looking forward to reading a few of these, especially as I've been busy so far this year.

I have 5 of them on my TBR so that's where I'll start I think.


message 8: by Rebecca (new)

Rebecca (rmtb) | 6 comments I'm very happy to see Wu Ming-Yi on the list, his other translated novel The Man with the Compound Eyes is probably the best thing I have read so far this year and I was disappointed that he isn't better known - hopefully this will help!


message 10: by Tok (new)

Tok | 1 comments I love the fact that The Stolen Bicycle made it!


message 11: by Robert (new)

Robert | 1993 comments I'm happy as well. I'll wait for the shortlist though


message 12: by WndyJW (last edited Mar 12, 2018 03:01PM) (new)

WndyJW | 4853 comments Our TBRs needed more books!

I finally got my copy of Die, My Love.(accompanied by a thank you note for my purchase from Carolina, who I’m guessing is Carolina Orloff. Another personal touch from a small press.)

I am finding the book everything that has been promised.


message 13: by Neil (new)

Neil | 1884 comments After mulling this over last night, I have decided the appeal of the MBI list is greater than that of 2666 with the 21st Century Literature group. Especially as I have 2 months to read that with them (it has been sitting by the armchair in my lounge for so long that a few more weeks won’t harm it!).


message 14: by Paul (new)

Paul Fulcher (fulcherkim) | 8732 comments Has to be said that 2666 is a better showcase for Natasha Wimmer's efforts that the book she was landed with on this year's MBI list


message 15: by Hugh (last edited Mar 13, 2018 03:28AM) (new)

Hugh (bodachliath) | 3164 comments Mod
Neil wrote: "After mulling this over last night, I have decided the appeal of the MBI list is greater than that of 2666 with the 21st Century Literature group. Especially as I have 2 months to read that with th..."
Sadly I can't get away with that approach because I am moderating that discussion. Read the first 90 pages yesterday so I should at least be ready to discuss the first book by Thursday (as long as the WiFi works!)...


message 16: by Paul (new)

Paul Fulcher (fulcherkim) | 8732 comments The 280 page section of murder victims is quite an ordeal to get through


message 17: by Neil (new)

Neil | 1884 comments 2666 is long but it is a 2-month discussion and I can’t see it being more than 1.5 weeks of reading (I am retired, so plenty of time). I reckon I can read the MBI first and still be able to join that discussion. I have Flights ready to go, so that will be up next.


message 18: by Tony (new)

Tony | 592 comments Ironic that the night after the longlist announcement is invariably one where I don't read, as I have none of the books yet, but don't want to start anything in case one arrives...


message 19: by Paul (new)

Paul Fulcher (fulcherkim) | 8732 comments That is what Kindles are for (not sure what else they are for). Pick one and download it. (Preferably not though, like I did, The Dinner Guest)


message 20: by Neil (last edited Mar 13, 2018 09:59AM) (new)

Neil | 1884 comments One use for a Kindle might be this:

Cost of the 12 available books in paper: £137.61
Cost of the 12 available books on Kindle: £85.58

The Flying Mountain not available until April according to Amazon. And then only paper (hardback), which would be one disadvantage of Kindle!


message 21: by Val (new)

Val | 1016 comments The other advantage is that I can take enough books on holiday without having hold baggage. (I never could in my pre-kindle days.)


message 22: by Jeanne (new)

Jeanne (grauspitz) Neil wrote: "One use for a Kindle might be this:

Cost of the 12 available books in paper: £137.61
Cost of the 12 available books on Kindle: £85.58

The Flying Mountain not available until April according to Am..."


Seeing the prices stacked like that makes me glad that I can find quite a few of the books at my local library. I will have to wait a little bit for them of course, but that will give me a chance to finish up the books I'm currently reading.


message 23: by Neil (new)

Neil | 1884 comments Sadly, my local library only has one of the thirteen in its catalogue.


message 24: by Tony (new)

Tony | 592 comments I'll be reading the Ransmayr in German - because I can ;)


message 25: by Paul (new)

Paul Fulcher (fulcherkim) | 8732 comments One strong recommendation on Kindle: try not to buy Stolen Bicycles that way. The physical book is beautiful and while the Kindle version does include the pictures, it simply can't do them justice. Uaving read the Kindle am I regretting it.


message 26: by Neil (new)

Neil | 1884 comments Several pictures in Flights, too. But probably not impossible to read on Kindle.


message 27: by Paul (new)

Paul Fulcher (fulcherkim) | 8732 comments For info this was the response of the Shadow Jury of bloggers and reviewers (of which I am part and which Tony chairs):

https://tonysreadinglist.wordpress.co...

Monday saw the announcement of the longlist for the 2018 Man Booker International Prize, and our Shadow Panel would like to begin by thanking the official judges for the effort they have expended on poring over all of the submitted titles to come up with a final baker's/Booker dozen of works. This year's selection is an intriguing mix of familiar faces and new discoveries, with two former winners in Han Kang and László Krasznahorkai returning (three if, like us, you include Jenny Erpenbeck's win in the final edition of the Independent Foreign Fiction Prize) alongside several writers new to Anglophone readers. As always, we extend our hearty thanks to the translators who make it all possible, with particular praise going to Frank Wynne for his feat in having two works make the longlist - in different languages, too.

This year's choices hail from ten different countries, but (as is often the case) the majority come from Europe, reflecting perhaps the nature of the submitted titles. With three Spanish titles (and one from Argentina) selected, just eight languages account for the entire longlist; again, while it would be nice to have more diversity, it is highly likely that the majority of books entered were originally written in the major European languages.

One pleasing development in this year's prize, though, is an increase in the number of female authors represented on the longlist. Six of the thirteen books were written by women, while there are seven female translators among the fifteen whose work has been honoured. It will be interesting to see what those numbers look like when the shortlist appears.

We were also interested to see a number of smaller presses rewarded for their work over the past year. While 'small' is a relative term in publishing, there can be little doubt that Charco Press and Fitzcarraldo Editions fit that description, and we are happy to see their work highlighted. Both MacLehose Press and Portobello Books continue to rack up longlist nominations, and Oneworld Publications have once again presented a strong contender in their bid to add the international Booker trophy to their two English-language wins.

In terms of books selected, few were surprised that The White Book, Go, Went, Gone, The World Goes On and Frankenstein in Baghdad made the cut, and most of the titles are familiar. However, there are a few books that we were not aware of, and we look forward to finding out more about them in the coming weeks. Perhaps more interesting, though, are some of the omissions. The Shadow Panel had its own deliberations over the past week, coming up with a list with many similarities to the official version. Books we considered, but which failed to make the official cut, include Nora Ikstena's Soviet Milk (translated by Margita Gailitis: Peirene Press), Rainald Goetz's Insane (tr. Adrian Nathan West: Fitzcarraldo Editions) and Lina Meruane's Seeing Red (tr. Megan McDowell: Atlantic Books). All of these are fit to have graced the longlist, and we are a little sad to see them left out.

However, if there is one title that we are surprised not to see included, it has to be Andrés Barba's Such Small Hands (tr. Lisa Dillman: Portobello Books). A superb take on the darkness hidden in the world of children, this was one of our certainties, and we were sorely tempted to call it in for our own longlist (which would have been only the second book we have done this for). However (wrongly or rightly), after much discussion we decided to place our trust in the official judges and stay with the thirteen titles they decided upon, reserving our judgement until we have read the books they deemed better than Barba's short novel. Should all thirteen longlisted titles prove to be worthy finalists, then we will applaud the judges' decision...

...but that is something to discuss in a month's time...


message 28: by Neil (last edited Mar 16, 2018 01:21AM) (new)

Neil | 1884 comments Loved Flights!

Finished it last night and really, really liked it. I think I may have said before that I prefer books with atmosphere to books with plot, and this is one of those because it works by accumulating lots of different fragments until something forms in the mind of the reader. It takes some reading because the writing deserves time to be taken, but it also feels like a book best read in as few sittings as possible. If lifestyle allows, I would recommend setting aside some long periods of time to concentrate on this.

3 down.

Starting Vernon Subutex now, which people a lot younger than I am keep saying they are too old for!


message 29: by Paul (new)

Paul Fulcher (fulcherkim) | 8732 comments Tony wrote: "I'll be reading the Ransmayr in German - because I can ;)"

Hopefully the English as well so you can give us your informed view of the translation quality of that and the Erpenbeck?


message 30: by Neil (last edited Mar 17, 2018 12:07PM) (new)

Neil | 1884 comments Finished Vernon Subutex. Loved it.

This can't possibly continue, but so far, each of the 4 books I have read has gone to the top of my list. Die, My Love was replaced by Frankenstein in Baghdad was replaced by Flights was replaced by Vernon Subutex.

Deciding on a short list looks tricky, if this carries on!


message 31: by Paul (new)

Paul Fulcher (fulcherkim) | 8732 comments If you want some balance read The Dinner Guest - if that goes to the top of your list above those 4 I will be very surprised.


message 32: by Neil (new)

Neil | 1884 comments I have bought a copy so will read it soon.


message 33: by Louise (new)

Louise | 222 comments That sounds ominous Paul!


message 34: by Paul (new)

Paul Fulcher (fulcherkim) | 8732 comments Nothing particularly wrong with it - but it just isn't that good and I would be very surprised if it dethroned Neil's top 4.


message 35: by Paul (new)

Paul Fulcher (fulcherkim) | 8732 comments The MBI is making me worried about the state of French literary fiction - the Prix Goncourt won by Lullaby and two books on the MBI both of which have characters channeling Jim from the Royle family and punctuating sentences with ',my arse'.


message 36: by Wen (new)

Wen (wensz) | 15 comments Neil wrote: "Loved Flights!

Finished it last night and really, really liked it. I think I may have said before that I prefer books with atmosphere to books with plot, and this is one of those because it works ..."

Neil, when talking about atmosphere vs. plot, does Reservoir belong to the former?It as my least fave among 2017 MB shortlisted, the lack of plot being one of the reasons. Anyhow, I've grown to really trust your views and recommendations :) Added Flights and will read it as soon as I can get any digital version.


message 37: by Wen (new)

Wen (wensz) | 15 comments I'm two down. Frankenstein in Baghdad was great and Seventh Function was so-so. Don't think I can read all 13; currently have The White Book, The Stolen Bicycle, Vernon Subutex and Flights on TBR.


message 38: by Neil (new)

Neil | 1884 comments Wen wrote: "Neil wrote: "Loved Flights!

Finished it last night and really, really liked it. I think I may have said before that I prefer books with atmosphere to books with plot, and this is one of those beca..."


Wen, the words "I've grown to really trust your reviews..." scare me slightly, but at least you don't know where I live! Reservoir 13 for me was more atmosphere than plot - I likened it to a pointillism picture where it makes sense and becomes beautiful when you step back from the dots.


message 39: by Wen (new)

Wen (wensz) | 15 comments Neil wrote: "Wen wrote: "Neil wrote: "Loved Flights!

Finished it last night and really, really liked it. I think I may have said before that I prefer books with atmosphere to books with plot, and this is one o..."


Yeah you'll be safe if you stay away from Mark Zuckerberg's enterprise. ;) "a pointillism picture where it makes sense and becomes beautiful when you step back from the dots.
" Applies to Flights too?


message 40: by Neil (new)

Neil | 1884 comments Wen wrote: "Neil wrote: "Wen wrote: "Neil wrote: "Loved Flights!

Finished it last night and really, really liked it. I think I may have said before that I prefer books with atmosphere to books with plot, and ..."


Not really. There is a plot in Reservoir as the search goes on for the missing girl. So there's a consistency in structure (a rhythm in the seasons in each year, for example). The atmospheric side of it comes in from the style that jumps around. In Flights, there are fragments of different stories (and different lengths) that gradually build an impression in your mind as you read.

For me, it's like Reservoir 13 shows you what you are looking at but gives you a different way to look at it, whereas Flights doesn't directly show you, just leads you around something and its up to you to decide what it is!


message 41: by Wen (new)

Wen (wensz) | 15 comments Neil wrote: "Wen wrote: "Neil wrote: "Wen wrote: "Neil wrote: "Loved Flights!

Finished it last night and really, really liked it. I think I may have said before that I prefer books with atmosphere to books wit..."


Hmm I kind of see where you were going about the difference. Can't wait to read it... don't think it's gonna be available before the winner is already out though. My next will be The Stolen Bicycle... just bought it on Kindle. and I saw your rating ;)


message 42: by Hugh (last edited Apr 04, 2018 12:39AM) (new)

Hugh (bodachliath) | 3164 comments Mod
I wasn't planning to take an active part in these discussions, but I have now read The White Book (which I bought before Christmas), and I picked up a couple of others from the longlist last night - I have also started The Stolen Bicycle.


message 43: by Sam (new)

Sam | 1647 comments I'm not enjoying much of I've read from the MBI longlist this year. I am going to read Go, Went, Gone, and then move on to the April new releases that might be Booker nominated.


message 44: by Neil (new)

Neil | 1884 comments Interesting to come on here and read Sam's comment. I came here to make the opposite comment! I have really enjoyed this year's long list (I am on book 11 of the 12 that are available) - even the ones that I have reviewed with fewer stars have been good and there hasn't yet been one I didn't like at all. For me, it is a very strong list and it will be hard for the judges to disappoint me with the short list selection (a bit like the recent Republic of Consciousness Prize).


message 45: by Paul (new)

Paul Fulcher (fulcherkim) | 8732 comments Agreed Neil - I've read 12/13 and the Flying Mountain has just arrived from the US (not recommended as a way to buy it unless you are a shadow judge and obliged to read it before the shortlist date). There is one book that is a bit meh, and one I personally hated but some of my favourite GReaders loved, but otherwise a very strong list.


message 46: by Sam (new)

Sam | 1647 comments My decision is based more on the my personal situation. I have potentially a dozen or so books on hold that are releasing in spring and i found myself bogged down with too many books and not enough time. April is a big month for new releases. Peter Carey's new book popped up on my hold list and i found I much preferred it to the books that i was already reading. I may return to these books in the future. Of the four books have read so far, none really grabbed me. And just like with people, if i find myself spending too much time with books, bored or unstimulated, i tend to elevate their perceived faults which then ruins the whole experience. For example, i found myself wishing to tear out the page each time i encountered one of Munoz's lists.


message 47: by Wen (new)

Wen (wensz) | 15 comments Yeah the timing of MBI isn’t ideal for me. Because of my schedule I usually read books in piecemeal (wish I could afford to retire :) ) So lugging a hardcover around isn’t a option for me. Looks like I can only read a couple more before the winner is out.


message 48: by Wen (new)

Wen (wensz) | 15 comments Btw I have explored buying kindle books from amazon UK, but on the forum they said it could mess up my Amazon account. Not sure if anyone here has any tips for me.


message 49: by Sam (new)

Sam | 1647 comments Wen wrote: "Btw I have explored buying kindle books from amazon UK, but on the forum they said it could mess up my Amazon account. Not sure if anyone here has any tips for me."

I have been patiently awaiting U.S. publication which is quite frustrating at times. If publishers are not going the Amazon route and haven't established a U.S. publisher, i imagine it is legal for them to sell you a copy. I picked up a copy of Attrib. and other stories that way but other than dubious ways, i am at a loss. I wouldn't mind if the books would be released within a month of one another, but often the delay in publcation between countries is significant. Tokarczuk isn't published here till mid-August and Kang isn't listing a publication date.


message 50: by Paul (new)

Paul Fulcher (fulcherkim) | 8732 comments Charco Press will post Die My Love to the US at a subsidised rate and Flying Mountain is available in the US but not the UK so it's not all bad! But yes publication dates are often very different - as evidenced by the low overlap in eligibility for the MBI and BTBA.


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