It wasn’t easy. The choice came down to a tie between Death by Water by Kenzaburo Oe and The Vegetarian by Han Kang. Neck and neck they each scored four points from the shadow panel, which required a tie-breaker according to some rule not entirely clear to me.
But then again, I’m not entirely clear on which book of all thirteen I felt should win. Personally, I loved The Story of The Lost Child by Elena Ferrante, but I don’t believe it should win because I don’t believe it can stand alone. Yet even that book, my favorite of all those long listed for the Man Booker International Prize 2016, does not compare to the way I loved The Detour, official winner of the IFFP, or The Sorrow of Angels, shadow panel winner of the IFFP, in years past.
I should mention that the shadow jury was in great favor of Ladivine by Marie NDiaye, an opinion I do not share. No, I am content with the final two choices as pictured above: The Vegetarian which is filled with images of the life of a woman gone mad, and Death by Water which is filled with the struggles of a writer and father.
Anyone who reads this blog knows what a fan I am of Japanese literature, and for me, Oe’s book is the better of the two. But, by virtue of the shadow panel jury’s rules, our winner is The Vegetarian.
That choice is especially interesting to me as it is also on the official long list. Is there a chance that the two could actually match? I anxiously await May 16, when we hear the judges’ decision as to the winner of the Man Booker International Prize 2016.
Until then, a heartfelt thank you to Stu and Tony, who led the shadow panel these past few months, and my fellow panel readers: Clare, Tony, Grant, David and Lori (Twitter: @LoriFeathers). It was such a pleasure to read with all of you aficionados of translated literature.