As mentioned yesterday in my post introducing this year’s Shadow Panel, I’m a bit behind schedule with all my International Booker Prize posts this year, so much so that the longlist announcement is only a couple of days away (I really should have got onto all of this earlier…).
Nevertheless, it wouldn’t be IBP longlist time without a post on random, clueless guesses wrapped up in the guise of predictions, and 2022 is no exception. Feel free to peruse my selection of a number of books I’ve enjoyed over the past twelve months, plus a few I suspect I’d like if I got my hands on them (links, as always, are to my reviews). I doubt many of these will actually make the cut, but I’ll feel rather smug if they do 😉
My first stop, predictably, is in East Asia, and I have a fair few Japanese and Korean books on my list. It would be nice if Kyōko Nakajima’s collection of stories Things Remembered and Things Forgotten (translated by Ian McCullough MacDonald and Ginny Tapley Takemori: published by Sort Of Books) made the cut, given that her excellent novel The Little House (tr. Tapley Takemori) never really got the praise it deserved. I also enjoyed Natsuko Imamura’s intriguing novel The Woman in the Purple Skirt (tr. Lucy North: Faber & Faber), but I suspect that Mieko Kawakami’s tale of teenage bullying, Heaven (tr. Sam Bett & David Boyd: Picador), might be the main Japanese contender this year.
Moving across to Korea, both books I’m tipping were published by Honford Star. Choi Jin-young’s To the Warm Horizon (tr. Soje) is an excellent story of a post-apocalyptic world, while Bora Chung’s Cursed Bunny (tr. Anton Hur) is an eerie collection of stories that found a lot of fans on its release last year. Either of these would make a fitting longlister – and it’s been a while since a Korean book was selected…
Leaving Asia behind for a moment, another possible guide to selection is looking for big-name writers. I’m certainly crossing my fingers for Mircea Cărtărescu’s Nostalgia (tr. Julian Semilian: Penguin Modern Classics), a mind-bending novel/linked-story collection that only made it to the UK last year, and A New Name: Septology VI-VII (tr. Damion Searls: Fitzcarraldo Editions), the third part of Jon Fosse’s trilogy in seven parts, is another book I hope is chosen. Perhaps the biggest name of all for this year, however, is Olga Tokarczuk, and The Books of Jacob (tr. Jennifer Croft: Fitzcarraldo Editions) was hyped so heavily that it would almost be a surprise *not* to see it longlisted!
Fitzcarraldo always seem to be there or thereabouts (even more so in our shadow judging…), but not all presses are as fortunate. Charco Press missed out last year, but if I were to put a cheeky tenner on an inclusion this time around, then Claudia Piñeiro’s impressive literary crime novel Elena Knows (tr. Frances Riddle) is where it would go. Meanwhile, I’m not convinced that Julián Fuks’ Occupation (tr. Daniel Hahn), the follow-up to Resistance, will be on the longlist, but it might be worth a small wager – hypothetically speaking, of course 😉
I make no secret of the fact that this list is influenced very much by the books I’m sent for review, and one press that has been very generous is MacLehose Press – which is why I can put forward several of their books as potential longlisters. I recently enjoyed Nathacha Appanah’s The Sky above the Roof (tr. Geoffrey Strachan), and another book that might impress the judges is Portuguese writer Dulce Maria Cardoso’s novel Violeta among the Stars (tr. Ángel Gurría-Quintana).
Two other books from the MacLehose stable are by writers previously longlisted for the prize (or one of its predecessors). Sara Stridsberg follows up The Faculty of Dreams with The Antarctica of Love (both tr. Deborah Bragan-Turner), a book more disturbing than it might sound. A far happier choice is Maylis de Kerangal’s Painting Time (tr. Jessica Moore), which is itself a lot less traumatic than de Kerangal’s Mend the Living…
That’s already quite a lot to be getting on with, but before I let you go, I’d like to suggest a few books that are on my radar, but that I haven’t tried yet. Fernanda Melchor and Sophie Hughes have followed up the rather successful Hurricane Season with Paradais (both Fitzcarraldo Editions), and the Icelandic writer Sjón is back with Red Milk (tr. Victoria Cribb: Sceptre). Another old favourite, Alejandro Zambra, returns with a new novel, Chilean Poet (Granta Books), once again translated by the ever-excellent Megan McDowell, but my last suggestion takes us back to Korea. You see, Tilted Axis Press have missed out every year, but this time, in the form of Sang Young Park’s Love in the Big City (tr. Anton Hur), it might just be their opportunity to shine 😉
Well, that’s a nice collection of books – a lot more than thirteen, in fact. Right or wrong, you’ll be able to see for yourselves soon enough. The IBP longlist is announced on Thursday, the tenth of March, and I can’t wait to see just how deluded I was!