International Booker 2020 Predictions

Posted February 24, 2020 by Michael @ Knowledge Lost in Literature / 10 Comments

The International Booker longlist is about to be revealed in the next few days. As most people know, this is probably the main prize I follow. I want to pay attention to the Best Translated Book Award (BTBA), Warwick Prize for Women in Translation or National Book Award for Translated Literature, but it is the Booker that is the most accessible here in Australia. Plus, there is the added bonus of having people from all around the world talking about these books.

I often find it challenging to predict the books that will end up on the longlist, but this year feels particularly more difficult. I am not sure what to expect, and the books have not been major standouts. I do think Baron Wenckheim’s Homecoming by László Krasznahorkai (translated by Ottilie Mulzet) will be longlisted but purely on the fact that Krasznahorkai always turns up on the list. I don’t have a great relationship with László Krasznahorkai but I have started Baron Wenckheim’s Homecoming trying to get it out of the way as soon as possible.

If the judges are going for popularity, then The Memory Police by Yōko Ogawa (translated by Stephen Synder) will be on the longlist. I am a fan of Ogawa and pleased that this book got so much attention, but this is not a favourite of mine. After those two books, it really is a struggle to pick what will be longlisted. Possibly Love by Hanne Ørstavik (translated by Martin Aitken), it was released in the US last year, but the UK release would be eligible for the prize.

The judging panel for this year’s International Booker Prize is pretty amazing. The judges are Lucie Campos, Jennifer Croft, Valeria Luiselli and Jeet Thayil, with Ted Hodgkinson chairing the panel. If I made an assumption of the longlist based on the judges, I will expect that this will be a European/South American heavy list, more so than normal.

Here are the books I am predicting (watch me be very wrong)

  • Baron Wenckheim’s Homecoming by László Krasznahorkai (translated by Ottilie Mulzet)
  • The Memory Police by Yōko Ogawa (translated by Stephen Synder)
  • Love by Hanne Ørstavik (translated by Martin Aitken)
  • A Girl Returned by Donatella Di Pietrantonio (translated by Ann Goldstein)
  • The Eighth Life by Nino Haratischwili (translated by Charlotte Collins & Ruth Martin)
  • The Wind that Lays Waste by Selva Almada (translated by Chris Andrews)
  • The Polyglot Lovers by Lina Wolff (translated by Saskia Vogel)
  • Under Pressure by Faruk Šehić (translated by Mirza Purić)
  • Tyll by Daniel Kehlmann (translated by Ross Benjamin)
  • Will and Testament by Vigdis Hjorth (translated by Charlotte Barslund)
  • Mac and His Problem by Enrique Vila-Matas (translated by Margaret Jull Costa & Sophie Hughes)
  • Hurricane Season by Fernanda Melchor (translated by Sophie Hughes)

10 responses to “International Booker 2020 Predictions

  1. I agree with most of your picks. Some that I think might also make the cut–The Living Days by Ananda Devi, November by Jorge Galán, Every Fire You Tend by Sema Kaygusuz, Billiards at the Hotel Dobray by Dušarn Šarotar, The Taiga Syndrome by Christina Rivera Garza, and I Don’t Expect Anyone to Believe Me by Juan Pablo Villalobos. Looking forward to finding out just how wrong we all were! ?

  2. I agree with you that the judges are fabulous this year, so I have high hopes. I am just never sure about the eligibility of certain books. I think your predictions have a high probability of being reasonably accurate!

  3. I agree, a great group of judges so I have very high expectations for this year’s prize. Wonderful to see your predictions. I really hope The Memory Police, Love, Hurricane Season and The Eighth Life make the list as well. Baron Wenckheim’s Homecoming is such an intriguing sounding book – I’m eager to read it. Also keen on Tyll. It’ll be exciting to see what actually makes the list!

    • I really hope that there is more Asian/African literature on the longlist than predicted but the Booker don’t have the best reputation for that. I’m very keen to get to Hurricane Season, so hopefully this longlist will give me an excuse to read it right away

  4. Laura Frey

    I’ve hardly been reading translated lit at all! Getting really hyped for the prize though, maybe it will bring me back to translations. The bills are often hard to access in Canada though. Do you think Lie With Me has a chance?? Is it eligible? I really liked it. I’d love to see Krasnahorkai, maybe some Japanese lit? I dunno!

    • I had started reading Baron Wenckheim’s Homecoming because I was sure it was going to be longlisted, but now I’m halfway through it and not sure if I should just finish it or put it on hold for now. I wasn’t a fan of The Memory Police but I’m glad to see it longlisted

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