New reports suggest that the shortlist for The 2016 Man Booker International Prize has now been revealed. The Man Booker International Prize, an annual literary award for books translated into English, recognises the finest in global fiction. Hayim Oshky looks at the six books in contention for this year’s Prize.
The Four Books
Written by Chinese author Yan Lianke and translated by Carlos Rojas, The Four Books tell the story of one of China’s most controversial periods: the Cultural Revolution. Set in a sprawling labour camp, this volume looks at what happens when the intellectuals imprisoned in this facility are abandoned by the regime. Describing The Four Books, The Man Booker International Prize writes that “it shows us the power of camaraderie, love and faith against oppression and the darkest odds.”
A Whole Life
A Whole Life, penned by Austrian Robert Seethaler and translated by Charlotte Collins, tells the story of Andreas. After living his whole life in the Austrian Alps, Andreas is enlisted to fight for the German Army in World War Two, only to be taken prisoner in the Caucasus. When he returns home, Andreas finds that modernity has reached his remote home, changing everything. According to the Man Booker International Prize, A Whole Life “looks at the moments, big and small, that make us what we are.”
A Strangeness in My Mind
Turkish author Orhan Pamuk’s A Strangeness in My Mind explores the “fury and helplessness of women in their homes.” Translated by Ekin Oklap, it follows boza seller Mevlet and the woman he writes three years’ worth of love letters to, as they live in Istanbul, expertly weighing up the tensions between family life and domestic life. Intrinsically, this book asks: “Do our choices dictate whether we will be happy or not, or are these things determined by forces beyond our control.”
Exploring life in modern day South Korea, The Vegetarian was written by Han Kang, who calls the East-Asian nation home. The Vegetarian, which was translated by Deborah Smith, ultimately focuses on shame and desire, examining how they come to reshape the lives of ordinary South Koreans Yeong-Hye and her husband. Following Yeong-Hye’s decision to pursue a more ‘plant-like’ existence, her life spirals into her fantasy as she tries to turn herself into a tree.
The Story of the Lost Child
In The Story of the Lost Child, which was translated by Ann Goldstein, Italian writer Elena Ferrante provides us with a compelling portrayal of lifelong friendship. Chronicling the bond between two women, The Story of the Lost Child is the fourth book in Ferrante’s Neapolitan Novels series. This volume allows us to glimpse what happens to these fascinating characters after their fight to escape the prison of conformity that was the neighbourhood within which they grew up.
A General Theory of Oblivion
Angolan Jose Eduardo’s A General Theory of Oblivion, which was translated by Daniel Hahn, chronicles the modern history of Angola through the story of one woman – Ludo. Just before the country achieves independence, Ludo decides to brick herself into her apartment. Throughout the next 30 years Ludo lives a solitary existence. But she can’t stop the outside world from gradually seeping into her secluded space until one day, a boy called Sabalu climbs into her apartment, changing Ludo’s world forever and forcing her to confront modern Angola.
Winning the prize
With this shortlist, there is some serious competition for The 2016 Man Booker International Prize. The winner, whose author and translator will receive £50,000 between them, will be announced on 7th July 2016. The judging panel has a difficult job on their hands; the books featured on this shortlist are compelling volumes which have all gripped the imagination of readers across the planet.