The International Booker Prize has announced the longlist of 13 novels in contention for its prestigious 2021 award, which celebrates the best translated fiction from around the world.
On this year's list is Palestinian author Adania Shibli's Minor Detail, which was translated from Arabic by Elisabeth Jaquette. It is the only regional title to make the longlist.
The novel is set in two time periods: the first is the summer of 1949, when Israeli soldiers murder an encampment of Bedouin in the Negev desert, including a teenage girl, who is raped, killed and buried in the sands. The second is in the present, when a woman looks into this "minor" crime.
“In a year when we could scarcely leave our own houses, we judges have been crossing continents, transported by our reading. Every book we’ve read is unique. However a theme does emerge – migration, the pain of it, but also the fruitful interconnectedness of the modern world,” says judge Lucy Hughes-Hallett.
“Authors cross borders, and so do books, refusing to stay put in rigidly separated categories. We’ve read books that were like biographies, like myths, like essays, like meditations, like works of history – each one transformed into a work of fiction by the creative energy of the author’s imagination. Thanks to those remarkable books, and to their translators, we’ve been freed to explore the world. We hope this prize will inspire many more readers to follow us.”
Here's the full longlist for the 2021 International Booker Prize:
- I Live in the Slums by Can Xue, translated from Chinese by Karen Gernant and Chen Zeping
- At Night All Blood is Black: A Novel by David Diop, translated from French by Anna Moschovakis
- The Pear Field by Nana Ekvtimishvili, translated from Georgian by Elizabeth Heighway
- The Dangers of Smoking in Bed by Mariana Enríquez, translated from Spanish by Megan McDowell
- When We Cease to Understand the World by Benjamin Labatut, translated from Spanish by Adrian Nathan West
- The Perfect Nine: The Epic Gikuyu and Mumbi by Ngugi wa Thiong'o, translated from Gikuyu by the author
- The Employees: A Workplace Novel of the 22nd Century by Olga Ravn, translated from Danish by Martin Aitken
- Summer Brother by Jaap Robben, translated from Dutch by David Doherty
- An Inventory of Losses by Judith Schalansky, translated from German by Jackie Smith
- Minor Detail by Adania Shibli, translated from Arabic by Elisabeth Jaquette
- In Memory of Memory by Maria Stepanova, translated from Russian by Sasha Dugdale
- Wretchedness by Andrzej Tichy, translated from Swedish by Nichola Smalley
- The War of the Poor by Eric Vuillard, translated from French by Mark Polizzotti
Both novels and short-story collections are eligible, with 125 books in contention for this year's longlist. The contribution of both author and translator is given equal recognition, with the £50,000 ($68,865) prize split evenly between them. Each shortlisted author and translator also receives £1,000, bringing the total value of the prize to £62,000.
The shortlist for the prize will be announced on Thursday, April 22 with the winner announced on Wednesday, June 2 in a virtual ceremony streamed from Coventry, UK.