Awards lists galore

by Sunita

The Man Booker International Prize shortlist was announced yesterday. As many news stories about the list have noted, it is dominated by women. The six books are:

  • The Years by Annie Ernaux, tr. Alison Strayer (France/French)
  • The Pine Islands by Marion Poschmann, tr. Jen Calleja (Germany/German)
  • The Shape of the Ruins by Juan Gabriel Vasquez, tr. Anne McLean (Colombia/Spanish)
  • Celestial Bodies by Jokha Alharthi, tr. Marilyn Booth (Oman/Arabic)
  • Drive Your Plow Over the Remains of the Dead by Olga Tokarczuk, tr. Antonia Lloyd-Jones (Poland/Polish)
  • The Remainder by Alia Trabucco Zeran, tr. Sophie Hughes (Chile/Spanish)

I’ve only read two of the list so far and liked them both. I had two more on hand and was able to buy the remaining two through Kobo UK. I haven’t decided whether I’ll try to read them all before the 21 May announcement, but I’ll read at least some.

I like the list. I’m sorry that After Dusk didn’t make it, but I’m also relieved that The Faculty of Dreams, which many readers rated very highly, was left off. I am just not up for a “literary fantasy” that treats Valerie Solanas as a totem for 21st-century feminists. It might be an excellent piece of literature, but the GR reviews have made me think that the less you know of the actual time, people, and intellectual debates, the more you are likely to (a) be impressed by the book; and (b) think you’re learning something about the real person. Solanas was a complicated and troubled woman whose relationship to feminism and gender theory isn’t easily summarized. The novel feels exploitative, even though the author is clearly sympathetic, in part because Solanas guarded her intellectual property so vehemently and had zero respect for affluent middle-class feminists. But that’s another blog post’s worth of off-topic material.

The BTBA list was just announced over at The Millions website. The M&G group had a lot of fun trying to figure out the 25 entries based on Twitter clues (the discussion starts at comment 184 and continues for pages). I won’t list all the books here, and no, I definitely won’t read them all, and not only because there are only five weeks between the shortlist and longlist announcements. But I’ll read some. I’ve read two of them (Seventeen and Convenience Store Woman) and am happy to see both on the list. I have four more on the TBR (Flights, Fox, Bricks and Mortar, and Love in the New Millenium) and one that I had a sneaking suspicion would be on but that no one on M&G talked about (The Hospital). And there are a couple or three I’ve bypassed repeatedly. Maybe this will finally make me read a Virginie Despentes novel, though.

Trevor, who runs The Mookse and the Gripes blog in addition to modding the GR group, has somehow managed to put up a comprehensive post on the 25 entries already. He has covers, blurbs, and brief reviews. I’m in awe. Go peruse!

And to close with something completely different: The Canadian Griffin Poetry Prize shortlist was announced yesterday, so it’s time to send out the bat-signal for Liz McC, who is my go-to poetry reading friend. There are both international and Canadian categories. The only title I recognize is Perseverance by Raymond Antrobus, because it has been sweeping all that comes before it: the Ted Hughes Prize, a place on the Rathbones Folio shortlist, and more. It sounds brilliant and intriguing.