Awards Congo Translation

Alain Mabanckou makes Man Booker International Prize 2017 Longlist

Alain Mabanckou is on the Man Booker International Prize 2017 Longlist that has been announced today.

The Man Booker International Prize is awarded every year for a single book, which is translated into English and published in the UK. Both novels and short-story collections are eligible. The work of translators is equally rewarded, with the £50,000 prize divided between the author and the translator of the winning entry. In addition, each shortlisted author and translator will receive £1,000 each. The judges considered 126 books.

In the last few years there have been nearly men for this prize which started officially in 2016. DR Congo’s Fiston Mwanza Mujila and Angola’s José Eduardo Agualusa made the longlist in the first year; Mulija’s was for Tram 83 and Agualusa’s was for A General Theory of Oblivion. Agualusa went on to be shortlisted for the prize only to lose out to Korean Han Kang for her book The Vegetarian.

The judges of the prize have revealed the ‘Man Booker Dozen’ of 13 novels in contention for the 2017 prize, which celebrates the finest works of translated fiction from around the world. The judges, chaired by Nick Barley, Director of the Edinburgh International Book Festival, are Daniel Hahn, Elif Shafak, Chika Unigwe, and Helen Mort. You can see in there Chika Unigwe who we feature on this blog regularly… Nigerian prize for literature shorlistee and winner, four novels and much more.

Nick Barley, chair of the 2017 Man Booker International Prize judging panel, says: ‘It’s been an exceptionally strong year for translated fiction. Our longlist consists of books that are compulsively readable and ferociously intelligent. From powerful depictions and shocking exposés of historical and contemporary horrors to intimate and compelling portraits of people going about their daily lives, our longlisted books are above all breathtakingly well-written. Fiction in translation is flourishing: in these times when walls are being built, this explosion of brilliant ideas from around the world arriving into the English language feels more important than ever.’

This year there is but one African on the list of 13. His name is Alain Mabanckou and the book that he wrote qualifying for this prize is Black Moses (Serpent’s Tail) translated from the French by Helen Stevenson. On the list of nominees, you will see him as belonging to “France.” Ignore that. We all know this cat was born in Congo Brazzaville and that France designation is just for “strategy.”

The shortlist of six books will be announced on 20 April and the winner of the 2017 prize will be announced on 14 June at a formal dinner at the Victoria & Albert Museum in London.

Let’s hope our man makes it to the shortlist and this time becomes the first African to go home with the glory. And a share of the £50,000.

By James Murua

This blog is run by James Murua a Nairobi, Kenya based lover of books.

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