ANGOLAN author, José Eduardo Agualusa, and his British translator, Daniel Hahn, have been short listed for the prestigious Man Booker International Prize for A General Theory of Oblivion (published by Harvill Secker).
Agualusa was awarded the Independent Foreign Fiction Prize in 2007, becoming the first African to win that award, and his books have been translated into 25 languages. He and his translator will be competing with:
• The Story of the Lost Child written by Elena Ferrante (Italy) and translated by Ann Goldstein (United States). The book is published by Europa Editions;
• The Vegetarian written by Han Kang (South Korea) and translated by Deborah Smith (United Kingdom). The book is published by Portobello Books;
• A Strangeness in My Mind written by Orhan Pamuk (Turkey) and translated by Ekin Oklap (Turkey). The books is published by Faber & Faber;
• A Whole Life written by Robert Seethaler (Austria) and translated by Charlotte Collins (UK). The book is published by Picador; and
• The Four Books written by Yan Lianke (China) and translated by Carlos Rojas (USA). The book is published by Chatto & Windus.
Each shortlisted author and translator will receive £1,000, while the £50,000 prize will be divided equally between the author and the translator of the winning entry.
Settings for the short listed books range from war-torn Angola to Naples terrorised by the Camorra; the mountains of Austria to the growing sprawl of Istanbul; and the metamorphosis in South Korea to allegorical transformation during the Great Famine in China.
Five of the authors have been nominated for the first time but Lianke appeared on the list of finalists in 2013.
The nominees include two winners of the Independent Foreign Fiction Prize: Agualusa (2007) and Pamuk (1990), who also won the Nobel Prize in Literature in 2006.
It is the first appearance on a Man Booker International Prize list for writers from Angola, Austria, South Korea and Turkey.
The translators are predominantly female and of British or American descent. The youngest are Turkish-born Londoner Ekin Oklap (27) and Deborah Smith (28) who only started learning Korean at the age of 21.
Three independent publishers, Europa Editions, Faber & Faber and Portobello Books, have made it to the shortlist. Penguin Random House has two novels through the imprints, Chatto & Windus and Harvill Secker, while Pan Macmillan’s imprint, Picador, has the final place on the list.
Boyd Tonkin, chairperson of the 2016 Man Booker International Prize judging panel, said: “This exhilarating shortlist will take readers both around the globe and to every frontier of fiction.
“In first-class translations that showcase that unique and precious art, these six books tell unforgettable stories from China and Angola, Austria and Turkey, Italy and South Korea.
“In form, the titles stretch from a delicate mosaic of linked lives in post-colonial Africa to a mesmerising fable of domestic abuse and revolt in booming east Asia.
“Our selection shows that the finest books in translation extend the boundaries not just of our world — but of the art of fiction itself. We hope that readers everywhere will share our pleasure and excitement in this shortlist.”
The list was selected from 155 books by a panel of five judges consisting of critic and editor Boyd Tonkin; anthropologist and novelist Tahmima Anam; academic David Bellos, Professor of French and Comparative Literature and Director of the Program in Translation and Intercultural Communication at Princeton University; editor and academic Daniel Medin, who holds a comparative literature professorship at the American University of Paris (AUP); and prize-winning British poet and author Ruth Padel.
The winner of the 2016 Prize will be announced on May 16 at a formal dinner at the V&A.