Man Booker International Prize 2017 – The Official Shortlist

It was a bit of a rush, but I eventually managed to get through the whole Man Booker International Prize longlist in time for yesterday’s shortlist announcement (even if I haven’t quite managed to complete all of the reviews yet).  Having reread the thirteen chosen titles, the official judges have selected six works to move on to battle for a large chunk of glass (oh, and £50,000 too…).  So, what made it to the next stage, and (more importantly) are they any good?  Let’s take a look…

The 2017 Shortlist is (links to my reviews where available):

Mathias Énard (France) & Charlotte Mandell
(Fitzcarraldo Editions)

David Grossman (Israel) & Jessica Cohen
A Horse Walks into a Bar
(Jonathan Cape)

Roy Jacobsen (Norway) & Don Bartlett/Don Shaw
The Unseen (MacLehose Press)

Dorthe Nors (Denmark) & Misha Hoekstra
Mirror, Shoulder, Signal (Pushkin Press)

Amos Oz (Israel) & Nicholas de Lange
(Chatto & Windus)

Samanta Schweblin (Argentina) & Megan McDowell
Fever Dream
(Oneworld Publications)

Thoughts?  Well, I’m not going to give too much away at this stage, but I will say that I’m very happy with four of the choices, grudgingly accepting of another and not overly keen on the final one (and anyone who’s been following my progress with the longlist on the blog or via social media will probably be able to guess which are which!).  If I had to choose one book I wish had made the cut, it would probably be Clemens Meyer’s Bricks and Mortar (translated by Katy Derbyshire, published by Fitzcarraldo Editions), as I feel his ambition deserved to be rewarded.  Unfortunately, I suspect that the presence of Compass on the list (as I predicted last week) probably led to Meyer’s book missing out.

But wait, I hear you cry – where’s the real shortlist?  What’s the verdict of the Shadow Panel?

Patience, dear friends, patience…

For a number of reasons (including the long gap until the announcement of the winner and the fact that the majority of the shadow judges had hardly read any of the longlisted titles before the selection was made public), we have decided to delay our announcement.  The Shadow Shortlist will be made public on Thursday, the 4th of May, at 9 a.m. (London time) – hopefully, the majority of our panel will have read everything by then (and maybe reread a few too) and will be in a position to come up with a great half-dozen choices.

Who knows?  Our shortlist might even be better than the real one 😉

10 thoughts on “Man Booker International Prize 2017 – The Official Shortlist

  1. I am very happy with the list.

    5 were the same as my personal top 5 choices.

    And for the Goodreads Shadowshadow jury are 4 certainties all made it as well as one of our “perm 2 from 5”

    Admittedly the 6th book – Mirror, Shoulder, Signal – was my and the GR group’s clear 13th choice from 13. But there is always the one book that the judges fall for, for inexplicable reasons. In their own words ““the funniest book on the list, the quirkiest and the one that will split the critics the most – but we all loved it”.

    I preferred Eileen Battersby’s takedown: “likable, as is this slight little book which suggests that the author, the first Danish writer to have a story published in the New Yorker, possesses sufficient humour to be fully bemused at her shock inclusion in this quality shortlist”

    Being provocative, in a way I would rather Mirror, Shoulder, Signal had made it, as mostly harmless filler, rather than some of the better but also more flawed overrated novels on the list that might have actually had a chance to win it (Bricks & Mortar, Fish Have No Feet, Black Moses).


    1. Paul – Not quite as happy as you, as you can imagine, but in fairness, it’s far better than has been the case most years. Yes, there’s always one book that evokes a bout of head-scratching, and I suppose I’ll have to reread it next month to see if I missed something (don’t think I have). Tony Messenger was a little less oblique (i.e. blunter!) in his musings, but I’ll leave that there…


    1. Karen – Never sure whether being in agreement with the official judges is actually a matter for celebration 😉 As for the reading, to be honest, that’s pretty much my reading pace, anyway. The only difficult part is sourcing the books in a timely manner…


        1. Karen – Mainly a matter of begging for review copies, checking out what my (excellent) local library has in stock and buying any that I can’t get otherwise 🙂

          Liked by 2 people

    1. Kaggsy – Well, I’d imagine it’d be fairly similar to the official choice, but there’s one I really can’t see making our cut (but who knows – not all scores are in yet!).

      Liked by 1 person

  2. It’s not quite the same, isn’t it, to release the shadow shortlist *after* the official one? Feels like it could/would affect/skew the shadow result. Just a comment from a keen spectator :).


    1. Mee – I don’t think it will affect our judgement (and most of the reading and scoring was already done by that point, anyway!).


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