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It’s Man Booker Time!

18 May

Every two years, the £60,000 Man Booker International Prize recognizes one writer for his or her outstanding achievements in fiction. The Man Booker International Prize differs significantly from the annual Man Booker Prize—its judges, in seeking out literary excellence, consider a writer’s entire body of work rather than just a single novel. The judges are aided by the Man Booker International Prize e-council, which makes suggestions for judges for the Prize and puts forward writers that the judges should consider reading. The e-council is made up of former judges and winners of the Man Booker and Man Booker International Prizes. It includes notable authors such as Hilary Mantel, Kazuo Ishiguro, Kiran Desai, Yann Martel and Sir V.S. Naipaul. The winner is chosen solely at the discretion of the judging panel—publishers’ submissions are not accepted. The winner of the 2015 Man Booker International Prize will be revealed on Tuesday, May 19, 2015. Here is a quick look at the 2015 nominees:

Cesar AiraCÉSAR AIRA (Argentina)

Born in February 1949, in Coronel Pringles, Argentina, César Aira is one of the most talked-about novelists in Latin America. He has lived in Buenos Aires since 1967 and has taught at the University of Buenos Aires and at the University of Rosario. A writer and a translator, Aira has published more than 80 books in Argentina, Mexico, Colombia, Venezuela, Chile and Spain. When asked to describe his work in an interview for The Guardian, Aira said, “Once I defined my books as “Dadaist fairy tales”. I don’t know if it is completely correct, but it gives an idea. What is certain is that they are purely literary.” His latest novel, Dinner, which will be out in October 2015, is about a horrifying, nightmarish incident that occurs after a dinner party in the town of Coronel Pringles. You can read Aira’s short story, “Picasso”, published in the August 2014 issue of The New Yorker, here.

Hoda Barakat

credit: Raaya Agency


Born in Beirut in 1952, Hoda Barakat was brought up in Bsharre, Lebanon. She graduated from Beirut University in 1975 with a degree in French literature. In 1975 and 1976, she lived in Paris, where she worked on a PhD, but decided to return home when the Lebanese Civil War broke out. In 1985, her first book, a collection of short stories entitled Za’irat (Women Visitors), was published. In 1988, she helped to establish Shahrazad, a women’s magazine. She moved back to Paris in 1989 and has lived there ever since. There she published a series of major works including Hajar al-Dahik (The Stone of Laughter) and Ahl el-Hawa (People of Love). Her third novel, Harit al-miyah (The Tiller of Waters), won the 2001 Naguib Mahfouz Medal for Literature. Her work has been translated into a number of languages.

Maryse Condé

©Mercure de France

MARYSE CONDÉ (Guadeloupe)

Maryse Condé was born at Pointe-à-Pitre, Guadeloupe, in 1937. She left the Antilles at the age of sixteen to study in Paris, first at the Lycée Fénelon and then at the Sorbonne, where she took her doctorate in Comparative Literature in 1975. Her research was on Black stereotypes in Caribbean literature. Condé’s prolific literary output has been paralleled by a distinguished academic career, which has included posts at UCLA, Berkeley, the Sorbonne, Harvard and Columbia University. n her latest novel to be translated into English, Victoire: My Mother’s Mother, published in 2010, Condé looked to her own background for a story—that of her maternal grandmother, who was a mixed-race orphan who became a cook for a white family called the Walbergs. Described as “one of the brightest lights in Caribbean literature”, Maryse Condé’s novels have been translated into English, German, Dutch, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese and Japanese.

Mia Couto

credit: wikipedia

MIA COUTO (Mozambique)

Born António Emílio Leite Couto, in 1955 in Mozambique to Portuguese immigrant parents, Mia Couto is one of the most prominent writers in the Portuguese language. In 1971, he moved to the capital, Maputo, and began to study medicine at the University of Lourenço Marques. He is a prolific writer, publishing almost a book a year. Stylistically, his writing is influenced by magical realism—when he writes, he mixes colloquial vocabulary and regional Mozambique structures into his language. He has written more than twenty books that have been translated into at least as many languages. In 2014, Couto was announced as the Neustadt Prize Laureate at the culminating banquet of the 2013 Neustadt Festival for International Literature and Culture. His latest book, Confession of the Lioness: A Novel, released in July 2015, is about the haunted world of Kulumani, an isolated village in Mozambique, which is shaken when ghostlike lionesses begin hunting the village women.

Amitav Ghosh



Amitav Ghosh was born in Calcutta in 1956 and grew up in India, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka. He was educated at the Doon School. After a brief stint in journalism, he went on to study anthropology in New Delhi, Oxford and Alexandria. His first novel, The Circle of Reason, about a suspected Indian terrorist, was published in 1986. His novel, Sea of Poppies, published in 2008 was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize, and was awarded the Crossword Book Prize and the India Plaza Golden Quill Award. His new novel, Flood of Fire, out in August 2015, is the third novel in Ghosh’s Ibis trilogy: a group of historical novels about the mid-nineteenth century Opium Wars, told from the point of view of both Indian and European characters.

Fanny Howe

credit: Lynn Christoffers

FANNY HOWE (United States of America)

Born to a family of artists and scholars in Boston in 1940, Fanny Howe became involved in the civil rights movement. She raised her three children in New England and travelled between there and California for many years, teaching both poetry and fiction. Her writing explores themes such as race and class, poverty and theology, women and oppression. She is the author of more than 20 books of poetry and prose, including most recently Come and See, The Lyrics and The Winter Sun: Notes on a Vocation. Her novels include Nod, Saving History and Indivisible, published in 2006 in a five-volume set under the title Radical Love. When asked in an interview to describe her work, Howe said, “My novels are about a generation of Americans who lived between 1940 and 2000, who resisted the postwar political and cultural forces by choosing a wandering life of impoverishment and wonder. Inevitably, race and economics are a big part of their stories.”

Ibrahim Al Koni

credit: wikipedia


Ibrahim al-Koni was born in 1948 in the desert of the Tuareg, in Libya. He didn’t learn how to read or write Arabic until the age of 12. He studied comparative literature at the Gorky Institute in Moscow, later becoming a journalist. From Russia, he moved to Poland, and later to Switzerland. He has lived in Switzerland since 1993, and has written over 60 novels, short stories, poems and aphorisms, all inspired by the desert. Al-Koni’s roots among the Tamasheq-speaking Tuareg people are a key part of his literary landscape. He has four works in English translation: Bleeding of the Stone, Anubis, The Seven Veils of Seth and Gold Dust.

Laszlo Krasznahorkai



László Krasznahorkai was born in Gyula, Hungary, 1954. Until recently, he was probably best known through the works of the filmmaker Béla Tarr, with whom he has collaborated on several films over three decades, including the adaptation of his novel Satantango, which was published in 1985. Krasznahorkai has written five novels and several collections of essays and short stories. In 1993, he received the German Bestenliste Prize for the best literary work of the year for The Melancholy of Resistance and has since been honoured with numerous literary prizes, amongst them the highest award of the Hungarian state, the Kossuth Prize.. “One of the reasons my sentences are very long is that I became always closer and closer to speech. If you are telling me something meaningful, suggestive, you don’t use the dot, you don’t need it. The full stop, the comma, these are conventions. Long and short are conventions,” Krasznahorkai said in an interview for in 2012. Krasznahorkai has won the Best Translated Book Award in the US two years in a row, in 2013 for Satantango and in 2014 for Seiobo There Below, a collection of 17 stories in which artists find transcendence while the other protagonists experience utter bewilderment.

Alain Mabanckou

Publiée le 2013-03-27 par carre

ALAIN MABANCKOU (Republic of Congo)

Alain Mabanckou was born in the Republic of Congo in 1966; he learned French when he was six, before that he spoke five or six African languages: Bembé, Lingala, Laari, Munukutuba, Vili, Kamba. He left his native Congo-Brazzaville in 1989 for France and did not return for 23 years. He is a celebrated novelist, lecturer and poet, and the recipient of major awards including the Grand Prix Littéraire de l’Afrique noire and a Chevalier de la Légion d’honneur. He is currently professor of French and francophone studies at the University of California, Los Angeles. His novels that have been translated into English are African Psycho, Broken Glass, Memoirs of a Porcupine, Black Bazaar, Letter to Jimmy and most recently, The Lights of Pointe-Noire, which records the two weeks of his last visit to his home town, as he catches up with his family and assesses the changes—in the place and in himself.

credit: VAN NIEKERK (South Africa)

Marlene Van Neikerk, an award-winning poet, novelist and short story writer, was born in 1954 in Caledon, South Africa. She is Professor of Afrikaans and Dutch literature and Creative Writing at Stellenbosch University and held the Unesco Africa Chair in Utrecht in 2007 – 2008. Neikerk is best known for her books Triomf, translated by Leon de Kock, and Agaat, translated by Michiel Heyns, who won the Sol Plaatje Prize for Translation in 2007. Agaat, translated as The Way of the Women in English, won the Sunday Times Literary Prize 2007 and the Hertzog Prize 2007. The film adaptation of Triomf, directed by Michael Raeburn, won the Best South African Film Award at the Durban International Film Festival, 2008.

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