The 2021 International Booker Prize Longlist!

Every year it seems to take forever for the International Booker Prize longlist to appear, but this year there was a reason for the wait, with the announcement pushed back to the end of March.  However, the day has finally arrived, one of celebration for lovers of fiction in translation.  It’s very much like our Christmas, and just as is the case with the real thing, there’s a lot of hope and speculation before the presents are unwrapped – and (sadly enough) often a little disappointment once we see what some of those gifts are…

Nevertheless, hope springs eternal, and that’s why I’m happy to be back to tackle the longlist in the company of some intrepid readers.  Yes, the Shadow Panel rides once more, ready to critique the baker’s dozen chosen by the official judges, hoping there’ll be some tasty buns in the batch (and dreading finding a mouldy one at the bottom of the bag).  But what are the literary snacks offered up for our delight in 2021?  Without further ado, here’s the longlist 🙂


Can Xue (China), Karen Gernant & Chen Zeping
– I Live in the Slums (Yale University Press)

David Diop (France) & Anna Moschovakis
– At Night All Blood is Black (Pushkin Press)

Nana Ekvtimishvili (Georgia) & Elizabeth Heighway
– The Pear Field (Peirene Press)

Mariana Enriquez (Argentina) & Megan McDowell
– The Dangers of Smoking in Bed (Granta Books)

Benjamin Labatut (Chile) & Adrian Nathan West
– When We Cease to Understand the World (Pushkin Press)

Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o (Kenya)
– The Perfect Nine (Vintage Books)

Olga Ravn (Denmark) & Martin Aitken
– The Employees (Lolli Editions)

Jaap Robben (Netherlands) & David Doherty
– Summer Brother (World Editions)

Judith Schalansky (Germany) & Jackie Smith
– An Inventory of Losses (MacLehose Press)

Adania Shibli (Palestine) & Elizabeth Jaquette
– Minor Detail (Fitzcarraldo Editions)

Maria Stepanova (Russia) & Sasha Dugdale
– In Memory of Memory (Fitzcarraldo Editions)

Andrzej Tichý (Sweden) & Nicola Smalley
Wretchedness (And Other Stories)

Éric Vuillard (France) & Mark Polizzotti
– The War of the Poor (Picador)

Well, was that what you were expecting?  A few quick comments:

Geography: 5/13 from outside Europe (fairly par for the course?)
Gender:       7/13 of the books by female writers (the new norm?)
Presses:       11/13 from small(ish) publishers (definitely a small press prize!)

As for our comments – well, it’s always best to have a good think first.  We’ll be discussing the longlist behind closed doors before coming together to let you know our thoughts.  Watch out for the Shadow Panel’s official response in the not-too-distant future 😉

2 thoughts on “The 2021 International Booker Prize Longlist!

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