Man Booker International Prize 2018 – The Shadow Shortlist

It was only last week that the five official judges decided on their shortlist for this year’s Man Booker International Prize, and now it’s time for another important announcement.  You see, while we on the Shadow Panel (grudgingly) accepted the official longlist as our starting point, once we had done as much reading as was possible given our amateur nature, limited budgets and even more limited time, we formed our own opinion as to which of the thirteen selected titles deserved to make it through to the next stage. Curious?  Of course you are (or you wouldn’t have clicked on the link…), so here, for your entertainment and delight (links, of course, are to my reviews), is the Man Booker International Prize Shadow Shortlist for 2018!


Javier Cercas (Spain) & Frank Wynne
– The Impostor (MacLehose Press)

Han Kang (South Korea) & Deborah Smith
– The White Book (Portobello Books)

Ariana Harwicz (Argentina), Sarah Moses & Carolina Orloff
– Die, My Love (Charco Press)

Christoph Ransmayr (Austria) & Simon Pare
– The Flying Mountain (Seagull Books)

Olga Tokarczuk (Poland) & Jennifer Croft
– Flights (Fitzcarraldo Editions)

Wu Ming-Yi (Taiwan) & Darryl Sterk
– The Stolen Bicycle (Text Publishing)


A few quick thoughts…

Well, that looks a bit different, doesn’t it?  The sharp-eyed among you will have noticed that only two titles (The White Book and Flights) appear on both shortlists, with Frankenstein in Baghdad (along with Go, Went, Gone) meriting an honourable mention from the shadow judges.  Surprisingly, the other three books on the official shortlist were never in the running for our final six, proving that pitting books against each other is a foolish waste of time comparing works of literature is a highly subjective and fraught business.

Looking a little closer at our six of the best, there are three books from Europe and three from further afield, with an even gender split among the shortlisted writers.  In terms of translators, Frank Wynne is represented here, just as he is on the official shortlist (but for a different book), while the female translators just edge out the men thanks to a dual female effort on Die, My Love.  In addition, there’s a wonderful selection of six small(ish) presses, showing once again that big isn’t necessarily best when it comes to providing quality fiction in translation.

But let’s look to the future.  Now our happy band of bleary-eyed readers will take a short break before plunging back into the reading and discussions, seeking to set aside earlier judgements in order to see the books afresh (or take snide pot-shots at each other’s choices from a safe distance of several thousand miles).  The only difference is that this time around, we won’t be waiting for the ‘experts’ to make their call – we’ll be announcing our shadow winner on the morning of the official announcement day.  I wonder who it will be?  Let us know what *you* think 😉

7 thoughts on “Man Booker International Prize 2018 – The Shadow Shortlist

  1. I wish I’d read these and the official shortlisted books in order to make a considered comment. But sadly no…. I just trust that you have all done a magnificent job of evaluating them and will have done so with completely open minds


  2. I’m glad you have The Stolen Bicycle here, it is my favourite so far. My second favourite is Frankenstein in Baghdad, and I think I want it to win.

    I’m reading two of the official shortlist books that didn’t make yours right now – The World Goes On and Like a Fading Shadow, not sure what i think of either yet. Next up is Flights, which I’m excited to see on both lists!


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