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Books from South Korea, Hungary and Iraq feature on the six-strong shortlist
Books from South Korea, Hungary and Iraq feature on the six-strong shortlist | © Janie Airey
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Books From Hungary, South Korea and Iraq Feature on This Year's Man Booker International Prize Shortlist

Picture of Matthew Janney
UK Books Editor
Updated: 13 April 2018

The shortlist for the Man Booker international prize has been announced, with titles from countries including Hungary, South Korea and Iraq featured on the six-strong list.

Two previous winners of the Man Booker International Prize feature on this year’s shortlist, as well as an Iraqi reimagining of Frankenstein. South Korea’s Han Kang and Hungary’s László Krasznahorkai – who won the 2016 and 2015 prize respectively – return to the shortlist of the 2018 Man Booker international prize for fiction in translation, worth £50,000 split evenly between the writer and translator.

Kang’s moving meditation on the colour white, and Krasznahorkai’s stream of consciousness short stories feature alongside Ahmed Saadawi’s Frankenstein in Baghdad, a horror story based on Shelley’s original set in the aftermath of the US invasion of Iraq. Saadawi won the International Prize for Arabic Fiction and is up for the award alongside translator Jonathan Wright.

In total, the list features works translated from French, Spanish, Hungarian, Polish, Korean and Arabic, with Olga Tokarczuk’s Flights, Antonio Muñoz Molina’s Like a Fading Shadow and Virginie Despentes’ Vernon Subutex 1 filling the three remaining slots


Han Kang-The White Book (c) Lee Chunhee 2

Han Kang has been nominated for her meditation on the colour white | © Lee Chunhee

The shortlist also exemplifies the recent dominance of independent publishers, with two books from Tuskar Rock Press, and one each from MacLehose Press, Portobello Books, Oneworld and Fitzcarraldo Editions.

Commenting on the recent announcement, Lisa Appignanesi, chair of the 2018 Man Booker International Prize judging panel, said: “This is a shortlist emblematic of the many adventures of fiction – its making and reading. We have mesmeric meditations, raucous, sexy, state- of- the- nation stories, haunting sparseness and sprawling tales; enigmatic cabinets of curiosity, and daring acts of imaginative projection – all this plus sparkling encounters with prose in translation. We were sorry to have shed so much of our longlist talent, but this is a shortlist to read and re-read.”

Before announcing the winner on May 22nd at a ceremony at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London, several curtain raisers will take place across the capital, including ‘Translation at its Finest’ in partnership with Foyles and English PEN on May 17th, as well as the Man Booker International Prize event with Waterstones at The Emmanuel Centre on May 21st.

Last year’s winner was Israel’s David Grossman for his work A Horse Walks into a Bar (translated by Jessica Cohen), which saw sales increase by 1,367% following the announcement.

The Man Booker International Prize Shortlist

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

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

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

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

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

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