It seems as if the Man Booker International Prize longlist was announced years ago, but it’s actually only been a couple of months that we on the Shadow Panel started working on our reading. While it has to be said that we weren’t overly impressed with the longlist as a whole, there were a number of excellent books on there, and our shortlist ended up being very similar to the official one (with one notable exception…). Since then, we’ve been rereading, discussing, arguing and sulking (well, that’s probably just me) before coming together (digitally) to vote for our favourite. So, who ended up on the literary equivalent of the Iron Throne this year (nervously looking around for signs of dragons)? Without further ado, here’s our selection 🙂
THE WINNER OF THE 2019 SHADOW MAN BOOKER INTERNATIONAL PRIZE IS:
Juan Gabriel Vásquez’s The Shape of the Ruins
(MacLehose Press, translated by Anne McLean)
Congratulations to everyone who helped bring this book into English! The Shape of the Ruins was a contender from the start, and while it wasn’t everyone’s first choice, overall it was top of our list in every round of voting. Both JGV and McLean have done wonderful work with their writing, and MacLehose deserve credit for their continued focus on quality fiction in translation, with several other eligible books unlucky to miss out on the longlist.
However, we mustn’t give all of the praise to the winner. There were a number of intriguing and enjoyable books on the shortlist, and we’d like to highlight a couple that didn’t quite manage to take out our prize. This year’s honourable mentions go to:
Annie Ernaux’s The Years
(Fitzcarraldo Editions, translated by Alison Strayer)
Sara Stridsberg’s The Faculty of Dreams
(MacLehose Press, translated by Deborah Bragan-Turner)
There was a lot of love among our group for these two, and either would have made an excellent winner – congratulations to both writers, translators and publishers 🙂
And that’s it for 2019…
Firstly, as always, it’s time to thank the rest of our Shadow Panel. With eleven judges on board this year, there has been a lot of lively debate, and far more discussion and disagreement than has been the case in recent years. Here’s hoping we can do it all again next year (but perhaps with a stronger longlist…).
Another group of people I’d like to thank is all the readers and commenters out there who urge us on and appreciate our attempts to read and review the books. If nobody really cared what we were doing, there’d be little point in the whole endeavour. Thankfully, that’s not the case, and all the comments, likes and retweets make it worth our while.
Finally, on behalf of the Shadow Panel, I’d like to extend our appreciation to the official judges. As you may have noticed, we haven’t always seen eye to eye with them (and in at least one situation, it was more like eye to ankle), but we realise how difficult it is to read this number of books and come to a consensus as to the best one.
Of course, I reserve my right to edit that last paragraph depending on what they give the prize to in about twelve hours’ time. No pressure…