Introducing the 2019 MBIP Shadow Panel!

A few weeks back, I started my annual Man Booker International Prize posts with a look at what might make the longlist (announced on the 13th of March), and today sees another important step along the path to deciding on a winner, namely the unveiling of the 2019 Shadow Panel!

This year, we have a group of eleven intrepid readers and reviewers eager to get to grips with the finest fiction the world has to offer (well, what little of it has made its way into UK bookshops, that is…), which equals the record for our biggest group.  However, in addition to the undoubted quantity, we think there’s a fair amount of quality there, too, so the official judges will need to be on their toes if they hope to avoid our cutting remarks.

The 2019 crew isn’t very different to the 2018 vintage.  We have eight judges from last year, one returning from a previous campaign and two new judges who have been wanting to join us for some time now.  But who exactly are they?  Well, just read on, and you’ll find out – introducing the 2018 MBIP Shadow Panel!

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.  He’s recently branched out into a spot of translation himself, including a serialised version of Eduard Graf von Keyserling’s novella Sultry Days at his site.  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

Bellezza (Meredith Smith) is from Chicago, Illinois, and has been writing a blog focusing on translated fiction, Dolce Bellezza, since 2006. She has also written reviews for Shiny New Books and hosted the Japanese Literature Challenge for 12 years. 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 European Literature Network, Splice, Words Without Borders, Shiny New Books, and Strange Horizons. He blogs at David’s Book World and tweets as @David_Heb

Vivek Tejuja is a book blogger and reviewer from India and based in Mumbai. He loves to read books in Indian languages and translated editions of languages around the world (well, essentially world fiction, if that’s a thing). He also writes for Scroll.In and The Quint. He blogs at The Hungry Reader and tweets as @vivekisms. His first book, “So Now You Know”, a memoir of growing up gay in Mumbai in the 90s is out in September 2019 by Harper Collins India.

Paul Fulcher is a Wimbledon, UK-based fan of translated fiction, who contributes to the Mookse and Gripes blog and is active on Goodreads, where he moderates a MBI readers’ group. He is on the jury of the Republic of Consciousness Prize (@prizeRofC), which rewards innovative fiction, including in translation, from small independent presses. His reviews can be found at @fulcherpaul and via his Goodreads page.

Emma Cazabonne was born and raised in France and has now been living in the US for nearly 20 years. She published a Medieval spirituality anthology. After university studies focusing on foreign languages, she tutors in French, translates fiction and nonfiction, and runs the virtual book tour company France Book Tours. She blogs at Words And Peace, where she likes to share about her passion for reading across many genres and for books in translation.  She can be found on Twitter @wordsandpeace

Naomi Morauf is a voracious reader and avid tweeter with a particular interest in translated and speculative fiction. She moved to London for her philosophy degree and fell predictably into its clutches, working in media analysis as a broadcast editor before moving into book publishing. A Creative Access alumna and active member of the Society of Young Publishers and BAME in Publishing, she is a regular at Post Apocalyptic Book Club and the Dark Societies series of events. She is currently reviewing submissions at Unsung Stories.

Oisin Harris lives in Canterbury, UK and is an editor-in-the-making with a Publishing MA from Kingston University and an English degree from Sussex University. He is an academic librarian, and a freelance editor and proofreader. He has written about Women in Translation, Book Histories and how they can affect Book Futures as well as on Islam and Literature in the West. When not reading or writing he can be found on Twitter @literaryty

Frances Evangelista is an educator from the Washington DC area who has been blogging about books sporadically for over ten years at Nonsuch Book and chatting on Twitter about the same @nonsuchbook. She has participated in a variety of bookish projects and shared reads including a Man Booker Shadow Panel for several years, and is happy to return for a second year to this MBIP panel.

Antonomasia (Anna Thompson) is a UK-based freelance commercial writer. She has been posting on Goodreads since 2011, and has over 700 book reviews under her belt, some of which are being imported to a new blog. For four years, she has been the main compiler of Goodreads lists of newly-translated fiction eligible for the Man Booker International Prize. You can see the 2019 MBIP-eligible list here. Like Paul, she is a  moderator in the Mookse and the Gripes Goodreads group.

Barbara Halla is an Albanian translator and researcher who splits her time between Paris and Tirana. She works for Asymptote Journal as Editor-at-Large for Albanian literature, where she also covered the 2018 Man Booker International Prize. She spends her free time reading literary fiction, feminist theory and 20th century Italian literature, written mostly by women. Her tweets can be found @behalla63.

We’ve already been warming up behind the scenes (bookmarks gathered, reading chairs reupholstered, Kindles charged, library fines paid off), and I, for one, have been cramming in a fair amount of last-minute reading in the hope of second-guessing a few of the longlisted titles.  However, none of this really counts until the big day, when the five poor souls bearing the weight of the fiction-in-translation community on their fragile shoulders make their choices public (to almost certain criticism – and that’s just me).  Rest assured, we’ll be poring over that list with the greatest of care and will be commenting on it in due course.

The clock’s ticking – no pressure… 😉

18 thoughts on “Introducing the 2019 MBIP Shadow Panel!

  1. Can’t wait to see the list and begin reading! I hope Convenience Store Woman is on it, as well as Tell Them of Battles, Kings, and Elephants and a few others. 😉


    1. Bellezza – There are lots I’d like to see, but it’ll be fascinating to learn of the books on the list I never even knew existed…


  2. Sounds like a diverse and seasoned group. I too have been reading as many as I can, but the more I research the Goodreads list, the longer my list becomes. It’s been a pandora’s box of possibilities and extremely fascinating, but I’ll be relieved when the second-guessing is over. I’m looking forward to reading (or rereading) the longlist as much as following the input of this group.


    1. Scott – This is the first year where I’ve had a go at squeezing in some likely titles before the deadline,and it’ll be interesting to see if my hard work has paid off. I have to say I doubt it 😉


      1. I’ve read the longlist since 2016 (fared well choosing the shortlist but never picked the winner), but this is the first year I’ve proactively embraced the Goodreads list. I have read 30-40; am compiling a list and I too have my doubts, but what the heck. Thankfully, this leg of the journey will be over next week.


        1. Scott – Yes, it’s a relief when you know what’s actually made it! Speaking of winners, our Shadow Panel has picked two of the three MBIP winners (three out of four if you include the last IFFP), so we’re not doing too badly there 😉


          1. You’re doing better than “not doing too badly.” Y’all are amazing. I’ve read posts from past years and wished I had discovered these blogs sooner. Your insights and opinions are educational and inspirational, and I expect nothing less from the list forthcoming.


  3. So excited! Reading (most of) the MBIP last year totally changed my reading habits. Shook things up. And I correctly guessed the winner, so, gave me an ego boost 🙂 Not sure if I’ll make as big of an effort this year (had to order things from Europe etc) but I will read the ones that are accessible. Look forward to all your reviews!


    1. Laura – Yes, it becomes more of a chore if you can’t easily source the books. I usually have at least one that I have to wait around for 😦 I’m hoping (fingers crossed!) that I’ve already read a fair few this year, but you never know until the list appears..


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