And the (Shadow) MBIP 2016 Winner is…

MBI2016 Logo RGB pinkWell, the announcement of the winner of the Man Booker International Prize for 2016 is almost upon us, with one lucky writer, author and publisher set to be honoured at a swanky ceremony in London (at which I will *not* be present…).  However, we first have some other unfinished business to resolve; namely, revealing the winner of our highly-prestigious Shadow International Booker Prize!  On Saturday, I posted on the history of our group, looking at the judges of past prizes, and our previous winners, but now it’s time to add another book to the roll of honour.  Without further ado…

The winner of the 2016 Shadow MAN BOOKER INTERNATIONAL Prize is:

'The Vegetarian' by Han Kang (Review)

Han Kang’s The Vegetarian
(Portobello Books, translated by Deborah Smith)

Congratulations to all involved!  From the moment it was released, The Vegetarian was talked about  as a potential IFFP/MBIP longlister, and the positive reviews have been rolling in ever since.  As a reader who has been devouring Korean literature over the past couple of years, I’m very happy to see this recognised, and I hope that much more of Han’s (and Smith’s!) work will become available in English before two long.  Our fifth Shadow Laureate, then, and our second female winner in a row – but the first from outside Europe 🙂

However, The Vegetarian didn’t have it all its own way – in fact, this year proved to be easily the closest one ever in terms of of our shadow voting.  At the shortlist stage, seven books stood out ahead of the rest, with Fiston Mwanza Mujila’s Tram 83 (tr. Roland Glasser) narrowly missing out, and in the next round of voting, Marie NDiaye’s Ladivine (tr. Jordan Stump) only failed to make the final head-to-head vote on a countback.

In fact, this year’s winner just squeaked over the line ahead of another excellent book – one which the official panel decided not to shortlist…



Kenzaburō Ōe’s Death by Water
(Atlantic Books, translated by Deborah Boliver Boehm)

Long before I started reading K-Lit, I was already a keen aficionado of fiction from just across the sea, and Death by Water is another excellent novel from the old man of Japanese literature.  This is the second in a series of books featuring Ōe’s alter-ego, Kogito Choko – with several of these still untranslated, let’s hope that the publicity from this prize will help push someone towards rectifying that state of affairs soon.

And so end our endeavours for 2016…

As usual, congratulations are due to Chairman Stu for being the originator of this idea, and we must thank all of our fellow jurors too. Tony, David and Bellezza clocked up their third tour of duty this year while Grant and Clare came back for a second judging stint.  Lori Feathers was the only new judge this year – I trust she enjoyed her first shadow experience.  It’s been another interesting and exhilarating journey around the literary world, and even if we didn’t always (an understatement…) see eye-to-eye with the official judges, I’d like to congratulate them as well – if only for giving us all something to complain about 😉

I hope all my readers (if there are any out there) have enjoyed the journey too.  While it’s nice to pack your suitcase and dust off your passport, sometimes it’s fun to just sit back at home and travel vicariously in the company of your favourite (or soon-to-become favourite) authors.  Hopefully, over the course of the past couple of months, I’ve been able to introduce you to some interesting books you might not otherwise have read (or heard of), and you might even have been inspired to seek out more work by these writers, or from these countries – and that’s what it’s all about.

Anyway, that’s more than enough for today (I’m sure I’ll be back when the real judges announce their winner) – let’s see if next year will be as much fun 🙂


11 thoughts on “And the (Shadow) MBIP 2016 Winner is…

  1. Can’t argue with any of that!

    So the shadow shadow jury and the shadow jury agree. Now wait for Boyd to decide to call in Cup of Rage from the longlist and give it the award jointly with A Whole Life.


    1. Paul – Well, nothing would surprise me 😉 I think there’s a good chance ‘The Vegetarian’ will be chosen, but I could also see all of the other books winning (for various political/marketing reasons…).


  2. Still have to read The Vegetarian, but my copy of Death by Water has arrived (following your review) and I’m so looking forward to it! Possibly before January in Japan…


    1. Emma – As I mentioned on Twitter, I’m not sure if it’s a good thing or a bad thing that we chose the same book as the official panel again 😉


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