Introducing the 2017 MBIP Shadow Panel!

mbi2017-logoIt’s almost that time of year again, with the announcement of the 2017 Man Booker International Prize longlist just around the corner.  On the 15th of March, the five judges will be handing down their verdict from on high as to the best twelve (or possibly thirteen) works of fiction published in the UK over the eligibility period (which hasn’t finished yet…), before getting down to the job of gradually whittling down the contenders until, in a kind of literary Thunderdome, one book leaves victorious, emerging proudly from amidst the debris of shattered spines and torn covers…

Which is all well and good, but can we really trust them (the judges, I mean, not the books)?  If your answer’s yes, then you can stop reading now, but if you’re not entirely convinced that the official panel are up to the task, then fear not, gentle reader, for help is at hand.  Once again, a band of rag-tag, completely unqualified literary amateurs are riding into town, a bookish magnificent seven eight here to champion the excellent and ride weak excuses for novels out of Dodge City with their tales between their legs.  If we feel like it, we might even add a book to the selection for good measure…

Who are these brave, foolhardy souls, willing to place their sanity on the line in the name of fiction in translation?  Us, that’s who.  Without further ado – here’s your 2017 Shadow Panel!


Stu Allen is returning to chair the second Man Booker International Prize shadow jury after hosting four shadow IFFP juries plus the first MBIP shadow award.  He blogs out of Winstonsdad’s Blog, home to 500-plus translated books in review.  He can be found on twitter (@stujallen), where he also started the successful translated fiction hashtag #TranslationThurs over six years ago.

Tony Malone is an Anglo-Australian reviewer with a particular focus on German-language, Japanese and Korean fiction.  He blogs at Tony’s Reading List, and his reviews have also appeared at Words Without Borders, Necessary Fiction, Shiny New Books and Asymptote.  Based in Melbourne, he teaches ESL to prospective university students when he’s not reading and reviewing.  He can also be found on Twitter @tony_malone

Clare started blogging at A Little Blog of Books five years ago. She does most of her reading during her commute to work in London and reviews contemporary literary fiction and some non-fiction on her blog. She particularly enjoys reading French and Japanese fiction in translation. Twitter: @littleblogbooks

Tony Messenger is addicted to lists, and books – put the two together (especially translated works) and the bookshelves sigh under the weight of new purchases as the “to be read” piles grow and the voracious all-night reading continues. Another Tony from Melbourne Australia, @Messy_tony (his Twitter handle) also reads Australian Poetry, interviewing a range of poets on his blog, which can be found at Messengers Booker (and more) and at Messenger’s Booker on Facebook – with a blog containing the word “booker” why wouldn’t he read this list?

Lori Feathers lives in Dallas, Texas and is co-owner and book buyer for Interabang Books, an independent bookstore in Dallas. She is a freelance book critic and board member of the National Book Critics Circle.  She currently serves as a fiction judge for the 2017 Best Translated Book Award. Her recent reviews can be found @LoriFeathers

Bellezza (Meredith Smith) is a teacher from Chicago, Illinois, who has been writing Dolce Bellezza for eleven years and has hosted the Japanese Literature Challenge for 10 years. Reading literature in translation has become a passion of hers since she began blogging, when she discovered writers from many other countries through fellow bloggers and favorite publishers. Her Twitter name is @bellezzamjs.

David Hebblethwaite is a book blogger and reviewer from the north of England, now based in the south. He has written about translated fiction for Words Without Borders, Shiny New Books, Strange Horizons, and We Love This Book. He blogs at David’s Book World and tweets as @David_Heb.

Grant Rintoul is a Scottish reviewer who lives on the coast not far from the 39 steps said to have inspired Buchan’s novel. Luckily the weather is generally ideal for reading. He blogs at 1streading, so-called as he rarely has time to look at anything twice. He can sometimes be found on Twitter @GrantRintoul

Yes, the gang is back, and we’re itching to get started, so that longlist can’t come out soon enough.  Look out for tons of reviews as the Shadow Panel rates and slates the contenders, and if we’re unhappy with some of the decisions made by the ‘real’ judges, we may (as hinted at above) call in a book or two ourselves.  Roll on the 15th of March, I say – it’s going to be… interesting 😉

31 thoughts on “Introducing the 2017 MBIP Shadow Panel!

  1. Well that’s certainly an illustrious panel. I’m going to be watching out for these reviews with great interest – on the look out for some work from countries where my experience has been thin so far.


  2. Tony, I love the voice in this post, as well as the opportunity to serve on the shadow jury panel with you and the others again. What thrilling adventures await us!


    1. Tony – I don’t actually think it’s eligible! The publication date I have for it is 16/4/16, which would have put it in the running for *last* year’s prize (and I bet you anything that Harvill Secker didn’t actually enter it, anyway…).

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Actually that brings up an important issue. Is it a book’s publication date or translation into English date that determines eligibility? Many of these untranslated works would have a limited audience until they do get translated, and by that time they would not be eligible.


        1. Tony – It’s all about the publication date of the translation into English, the first available translation in the UK.

          Re: ‘Sudden Death’, the change in the eligibility dates (from Jan-Dec to May-Apr) threw a lot of people out last year, and I suspect that many good books weren’t entered because people who should know better (people who make their living in publishing) were too dopey to realise that their books wouldn’t be eligible next time around (e.g. I suspect that Han Kang’s ‘Human Acts’ may have missed the boat in this way…).

          Liked by 1 person

          1. I don’t know for a fact, but I’d be surprised if Álvaro wasn’t entered last year. Last year there was a bumper year because of the scheduling change (so they had a fifteen-month year to bridge the gap); now we’re back to what should I imagine be the standard May-April for ever more. But no, no Álvaro or Kang for us, alas.

            Liked by 1 person

              1. Pretty sure we aren’t missing anything big & obvious this year; and the judges are always allowed to call in extra books if there’s something they think important that hasn’t been submitted.


      1. If only “they” knew, too! You’ll know less than 48 hours after it’s been decided, so it’s not like we’re keeping secrets to tantalise you…

        Liked by 1 person

          1. The Booker announcements are always very soon after the selections; for the longlist we choose on Monday and it’s annouced Wednesday morning; for the shortlist there’s longer (almost a week); for the winner we choose on the Monday and they announce on the Wednesday.


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