The International Man Booker Prize 2020

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The International Man Booker Prize for the year 2020 was announced this Wednesday on 26th August. It was awarded to Marieke Lucas Rigneveld for her debut novel The Discomfort of Evening, translated from Dutch by Michele Hutchison. It was announced at a digital event which was live-streamed across the Booker Prizes Facebook and Youtube pages. Head of Literature and Spoken Word at Southbank Centre, Ted Hodgkinson chaired the panel of 5 judges. Moreover this year, the judges considered over 124 books, translated from 30 languages. So read on to know more about all the shortlisted books, and what makes the International Man Booker so prestigious.

About The International Man Booker Prize

‘The most toffee-nosed among the literati may still regard the very notion of a prize as vulgar. But every year – from the unveiling of the longlist until the winner is revealed – the Man Booker gets us all talking about books, in a way that nothing else can match.’ // The Guardian

The Booker Prizes reward the finest in fiction and the International prize is rewarded annually to a single book translated into English and published in the UK. By honouring fiction from all around the world, Man Booker thus, aims to encourage the reading of quality fiction and also celebrates the vital role of translators in the literature community. The author and the translator divide the prize money as well. The Man Group organization has sponsored the Man Booker Prize since 2002 and the Man Booker International Prize since its inception in 2005. Along with other charitable activities of the Booker Prize Foundation, the firm also upholds the prize’s aim to promote literary excellence on a global scale. 

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The Shortlisted Books and what they are about.

(1) The Discomfort of Evening
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The Man Booker International Prize 2020

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Marieke Lucas Rijneveld is the youngest winner of the International Booker Prize. In her book, a 10-year-old Jas attempts to bargain with God, when she gets resentful of being alone. So she pits the life of her pet rabbit against that of her brother Matthies who never returns. The book’s Dutch edition has also won the ANV Debut Prize in the Netherlands.

Chair of the judges, Ted Hodgkinson says:

“We set ourselves an immense task in selecting a winner from our superb shortlist, filled with fiction bold enough to upend mythic foundations and burst the banks of the novel itself. From this exceptional field, and against an extraordinary backdrop, we were looking for a book that goes beyond echoing our dystopian present and possesses a timeless charge. Combining a disarming new sensibility with a translation of singular sensitivity, The Discomfort of Evening is a tender and visceral evocation of a childhood caught between shame and salvation, and a deeply deserving winner of The 2020 International Booker Prize.”

(2) The Enlightenment of the Greengage Tree

The Man Booker International Prize 2020

Post-1979 Iran (after the Islamic Revolution) is the setting of the book. It follows the story of a family in Tehran and how post-revolutionary forces compel them to flee their home. The author Shokoofeh Azar moved to Australia as a political refugee in 2011. She is also the first woman to hitchhike the entire Silk Road. Farsi is the original language of the book. The translator remains anonymous.

(3) The Adventures of China Iron

The Man Booker International Prize 2020

Gabriela Cabezón Cámara is the author of this book. Iona Macintyre and Fiona Mackintosh have translated it from Spanish. It’s a unique, feminist retelling of Argentina’s gaucho epic Martin Fierro, taking us within the pampas with a young name named China. Humourous and joyful in its telling, it is also an incisive critique of national origin myths and of the casualties of ruthless progress.

(4) Tyll

The Man Booker International Prize 2020

Daniel Kehlmann uses the German legend of Tyll within the premise of the Thirty Years War, in his historical fiction novel of the same name. It is an adventurous and magical realist novel, with the spirit of a rebellious hero. Tyll portrays the timeless power and how it thus, remains an effective weapon against oppression. Ross Benjamin has translated the book from German.

(5) Hurricane Season

The Man Booker International Prize 2020

This is Hernando Melchor’s debut novel in the English language. Sophie Hughes has translated the book from Spanish. Initially, it surrounds the mystery of a witch’s death in a small Mexican village. Then it moves on to deeper questions concerning why over who. The novel is a thriller and explores the darkness of rural Mexico, filled with violence, poverty, superstition and prejudice.

(6) The Memory Police

The Man Booker International Prize 2020

From the winner of every Japanese literary award, comes another beautiful novel. Yoko Ogawa creates a dystopian island, where objects start disappearing. The Memory Police take charge to ensure that they remain forgotten. It also explores the power of memory when they threaten a novelist’s editor. Thus, both of them cling to the novelist’s works to preserve the past.

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