Tag: Man Booker International longlist

The Impostor by Javier Cercas

Posted July 10, 2018 by Michael @ Knowledge Lost in Historical Fiction / 4 Comments

The Impostor by Javier CercasTitle: The Impostor (Goodreads)
Author: Javier Cercas
Translator: Frank Wynne
Published: MacLehose Press, 2014
Pages: 430
Genres: Historical Fiction
My Copy: eBook

Buy: AmazonBook DepositoryKindleWordery (or visit your local Indie bookstore)

Longlisted for the Man Booker International Prize 2018

One of the problems I faced with reading the entire Man Booker International longlist is that the judges tended to pick similar types of books. This year there was a real focus on novels that blurred the line between fiction and memoir. This means that some of the picks felt too similar. Take for example, The Imposter by Javier Cercas (translated by Frank Wynne), which I read right after reading Like a Fading Shadow by Antonio Muñoz Molina which was translated by Camilo A. Ramirez. Both books seem to be a hybrid that deal with real historical events as well as the author’s life.

The Imposter is centred on Enric Marco, a man who claimed he was a prisoner in Nazi German concentration camps Mauthausen and Flossenbürg during World War II. He was awarded the Creu de Sant Jordi (one of the highest civil distinction awards) by the Catalan government, as well as writing a book about his experience. He even became the president of Spain’s leading Holocaust survivor movement. However, it was a lie, in which he responded by saying “I am an impostor, but not a fraud”. A decade later Javier Cercas is investigating Spanish history and then looks into the impact Enric Marco had on the world.

This is a look into human nature and self-deception, while a fascinating concept, this just fell flat for me. This was one of the books I was looking forward to reading on the longlist. The idea of digging yourself into such a lie fascinated me. I truly think I picked this one at the wrong time. It became a struggle to read and I am unable to tell if it was the book itself or the timing. Both The Imposter and Like a Fading Shadow just blended together completely.

I am really unsure if I will re-read this book at a future date, but it has made me rethink reading the Man Booker International longlist in the future. Ideally, I would have read a few of the books on the long list before it is announced. I am getting more and more into books in translations and I hope in 2019 when the longlist is announced I will already have some of the books crossed off. Have you had this experience before? For those who have read this one, is it just a case of bad timing? I am curious to know from others.


Man Booker International Prize Longlist Predictions

Posted March 12, 2018 by Michael @ Knowledge Lost in Random / 4 Comments

Normally I do not pay attention to the numerous literary awards but The Man Booker International Prize is the exception. I have been following this prize since its reincarnation, when it merged with the Independent Foreign Fiction Prize (IFFP). The main reason I pay attention is to get some reading ideas from the longlist. I never have any intention on reading the entire longlist but I hope to discover new books. As most people know, I have been reading more and more books in translation and it can be hard to discover new books; well, it is getting easier.

Since we are close to the longlist being announced, I thought I would try my hand at predicting some of the books. I know there are some other book bloggers that are better at picking the list, I am talking about the shadow jury, but I thought it would be fun to join the conversation. I love that the Man Booker has helped bring translations into the spotlight and I hope it continues to encourage more people to try new novels.

The White Book by Han Kang (translated by Deborah Smith)

A new Han Kang/Deborah Smith novel is an obvious choice, since they won the first Man Booker International Prize. So expect it to make the longlist, maybe even the shortlist but I would be very surprised if it won the prize. Having only read The Vegetarian, I need to make sure I pick this book up at some point; but Human Acts is on my shelves waiting as well.

The 7th Function of Language by Laurent Binet (translated by Sam Taylor)

Most of my predictions are books I have yet to read (is that cheating?) but The 7th Function of Language is one of the few I have on my shelves. Laurent Binet had great success with his book HHhH, and his new book seems to be doing just as well. This is a political thriller/satire; sounds like the perfect book for me, so maybe I should push this up my TBR.

Such Small Hands by Andrés Barba (translated by Lisa Dillman)

Either Such Small Hands has been doing really well amongst the readers of translated lit, or I am following too many of Portobello Books social media accounts. This dark Spanish novella seems to blend elements of horror and the gothic into the story. Right away, I am reminded of Mariana Enríquez.

Frankenstein in Baghdad by Ahmed Saadawi (translated by Jonathan Wright)

One of the only books in my predictions that I have read; Frankenstein in Baghdad won the International Prize for Arabic Fiction in 2014 and only recently translated into English. This novel is a brutal look at life in post-invasion Iraq, yet it is still able to be darkly humorous. If you are a fan of Frankenstein, like I am, there are plenty of references to Mary Shelley’s classic novel.

The Impossible Fairy Tale by Han Yujoo (translated by Janet Hong)

Having another South Korean author on the list might be a long shot, but I believe The Impossible Fairy Tale might have enough on offer to make the list. The novel explores two grade-school girls trying to navigate life and the society they live in. An eerie and unpredictable coming of age novel might be the perfect combination to gain this a spot on the longlist.

Flights by Olga Tokarczuk (translated by Jennifer Croft)

The novel won the NIKE Literary Award (Nagroda Literacka NIKE) in 2008, which is Poland’s biggest literary prize. I have not read this book yet, but I have heard nothing but good things. I know it is a book about travel but honestly Flights made my list because I trust Fitzcarraldo Editions to deliver great books in translation, is that not enough?

Lullaby by Leïla Slimani (translated by Sam Taylor)

Also known as The Perfect Nanny, this book has been appearing all over the place. Written by a French author of Moroccan descent, Lullaby offers social criticism on class, race and politics. While this might be too much of a thriller to make the list, I believe Leïla Slimani’s background in journalism and political science might make this more than your average mystery book; it did win the prestigious Prix Goncourt.

The Red-Haired Woman by Orhan Pamuk (translated by Ekin Oklap)

What Man Booker International longlist would be complete without the Nobel laureate Orhan Pamuk? At this point, any of this Turkish author’s books that get translated into English are automatically added to the longlist. This book explores life in modern Turkey from the point of view of the middle class, in particular the way Westernisation is effecting traditional culture.

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