The Man Booker International Prize 2019 long list

Perhaps it is not a surprise after all, to find that of the thirteen books long listed for the Man Booker International Prize, I have read two of them. It seems that the jury wishes to find the unsung heroes for translated literature, the books which could go unnoticed were it not for the attention given by this prize. While I had hoped for Haruki Murakami’s Killing Commendatore to be included, it makes sense to read authors whose novels are less known. It makes sense to draw attention to the small presses who publish such magnificent works.

The Shadow Jury and I will begin reading tonight, if I speak only for myself, as eager to begin as those who attended a release party for the Harry Potter books when they came out at midnight.

Our library had only three of the thirteen titles, a fact which does not surprise me as it wouldn’t leave much room for John Sanford or Kristin Hannah if they filled their shelves with the mind-broadening books listed here. Therefore, I am searching for the remaining 10 titles as I plan on reading them all before the winner is announced in May.

Man Booker International prize 2019 longlist

Celestial Bodies by Jokha Alharthi (Oman), translated from Arabic by Marilyn Booth (Sandstone Press)

Love in the New Millennium by Can Xue (China), translated by Annelise Finegan Wasmoen (Yale University Press)

The Years by Annie Ernaux (France), translated by Alison Strayer (Fitzcarraldo Editions)

At Dusk by Hwang Sok-yong (South Korea), translated by Sora Kim-Russell (Scribe)

Jokes for the Gunmen by Mazen Maarouf (Iceland and Palestine), translated from Arabic by Jonathan Wright (Granta)

Four Soldiers by Hubert Mingarelli (France), translated from French by Sam Taylor (Granta)

The Pine Islands by Marion Poschmann (Germany), translated by Jen Calleja (Serpent’s Tail)

Mouthful of Birds by Samanta Schweblin (Argentina and Italy), translated from Spanish by Megan McDowell (Oneworld)

The Faculty of Dreams by Sara Stridsberg (Sweden), translated by Deborah Bragan-Turner (Quercus)

Drive Your Plow Over the Bones of the Dead by Olga Tokarczuk (Poland), translated by Antonia Lloyd-Jones (Fitzcarraldo Editions)

The Shape of the Ruins by Juan Gabriel Vásquez (Colombia), translated from Spanish by Anne McLean (MacLehose Press)

The Death of Murat Idrissi by Tommy Wieringa (Netherlands), translated by Sam Garrett (Scribe)

The Remainder by Alia Trabucco Zerán (Chile and Italy), translated from Spanish by Sophie Hughes (And Other Stories)

The Shadow Jury and I will be reading and posting our thoughts on as many titles as we can before the short list is revealed on April 9, 2019, and the winner declared on May 21, 2019. 

16 thoughts on “The Man Booker International Prize 2019 long list

  1. That is a list with quite a few new titles to me. Which is kind of interesting. The only one I tried to read is The Years which I expected to love but found alternately tedious and self-indulgent. Apparently she does divide readers. Good luck with this year’s shadow jury. I learned a lot the one year I did it, but prefer to watch from the sidelines. I do have The Remainder on hand from my And Other Stories subscription, so perhaps I will move that up the TBR, just because!

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    • I feel exactly the way you described about The Years. In fact, I abandoned it halfway through, something I almost never do. I could not bear how tedious it was, while initially enjoying her remembrances. The only other ones I’m familiar with are Drive Your Plow Over The Bones of The Dead (but surely, Olga can’t win two years in a row, can she?) and The Shape of Ruins. I had so hoped for more books from Charco Press, specifically Resistance. Well, we will see how these turn out. I am unable to comment lucidly on most of them. 😉

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  2. A list full of surprises and two Arabic translations, I’m looking forward to your reviews to see what I might like! Unusual to see a chunkster on the MBI longlist, but he’s been compared to Bolano, so maybe that’s a clue. Happy Reading, which titles did your library have and what will you start with?

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    • I am sure that Juan Gabriel Vásquez has been compared to Roberto Bolano, but I like Juan’s books so much better. I know that makes me in a minority; everyone I know adores Bolano! But, as far as famous Spanish writers go, I’ll say Javier Marias is my favorite. At any rate, our library had The Shape of The Ruins, Mouthful of Birds, and shockingly, Four Soldiers. I am afraid the later, by Mingerelli, will closely resemble Mingarelli’s A Meal In Winter which was quite distressing (about war).
      I have read (half of) The Years, a well loved memoir by Annie Ernaux, but I found it quite tedious as roughghosts and I discussed briefly above. So, I guess I will begin with Drive Your Plow Over The Bones Of The Dead, as I am a great fan of Olga Tokarczuk’s work. Have you read any of these books from the long list?

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  3. I look forward to how you go finding all of these books and reading them before the date the list is announced. The book list is interesting this year, I hope you find the books to be too. 🤠🐧

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    • The long list does look interesting indeed, even better, I think, than last year’s. I was surprised Olga Tokarczuk reappeared as I wonder if she could possibly be given the prize two years in a row, and I believe the jurors want to highlight new authors. But, she is so excellent I am glad to find her here again. As well as Samanath Schweblin who was long listed for Fever Dream before. For that matter, Juan Gabriel Vasquez reappears as well. Bur the others are new to me, and I will enjoy discovering who they are.

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  4. Bellezza,
    Thank you for taking the time to put together this book list. The titles sound serious, and I’m inclined to think that the subjects of these book are weighty.

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    • I think The Shape of The Ruins is the longest one, most of them are much shorter. I believe At Dusk is merely 97 pages, and The Pine Islands has haiku (not certain as I haven’t received it in the post yet). But what an exciting list to go through, isn’t it?

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  5. Congrats on reading two from this list – I’ve only heard of two of them, let alone read any of them. But I know several of our customers at work will want to tackle most of these books, so I look forward to ordering them in & checking them out.

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    • I envy your work in a book shop (in a good way!). I suppose you must have to read a lot of these to give an opinion or answer a question; I’ll be interested in your thoughts should you read any of them.

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  6. This is a first for me…I never heard of these books except for one I own Mouthful of Birds. I know of Annie Erneaux, not one of my favorite authors.
    Thank you Meredith for the list 💗

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    • Oh Sylive, my friend, Annie Ernaux isn’t beloved by me, either! I was disappointed to find her memoir of The Years here. I began it, and enjoyed the first half, but then I became bored. I must finish it this time, but I am so intrigued that you, as a French woman, were equally nonplussed.

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