The International Booker Longlist Showcases The Strength Of Latin American Fiction


The International Booker longlist signals a “second ‘boom’ in Latin American fiction”, said judges, with a quarter of the nominated authors being South American.

Argentinian poet Selva Almada, Venezuelan writer Rodrigo Blanco Calderón, Brazilian writer Itamar Vieira Junior and Peruvian journalist Gabriela Wiener have all been longlisted for the prize, which recognises the best novels and short story collections from around the world that have been translated into English and published in the UK and/or Ireland.

The first “boom” in Latin American literature occurred in the 1960s and 70s when a group of Latin American novelists, including Gabriel García Márquez and Mario Vargas Llosa, gained worldwide readership.

Quick Guide

The International Booker prize 2024 longlist

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Not a River by Selva Almada, translated by Annie
McDermott (Charco)

Simpatía by Rodrigo
Blanco Calderón, translated by Noel
Hernández
González and Daniel
Hahn (Seven Stories)

Kairos by Jenny
Erpenbeck, translated by Michael
Hofmann (Granta) 

The Details by Ia Genberg, translated by Kira
Josefsson (Wildfire)   

White Nights by Urszula Honek, translated by Kate
Webster (MTO)

Mater 2-10 by Hwang Sok-yong, translated by Sora Kim-Russell and Youngjae
Josephine
Bae (Scribe)

A Dictator
Calls

by Ismail Kadare, translated by John
Hodgson (Harvill Secker)

The Silver Bone by Andrey Kurkov, translated by Boris Dralyuk (MacLehose)   

What I’d
Rather Not
Think About

by Jente Posthuma, translated by Sarah
Timmer
Harvey (Scribe) 

Lost on Me by Veronica Raimo, translated by Leah
Janeczko (Virago)   

The House on
Via Gemito

by Domenico
Starnone, translated by Oonagh
Stransky

(Europa)

Crooked
Plow

by Itamar Vieira
Junior, translated by Johnny
Lorenz (Verso) 

Undiscovered by Gabriela
Wiener, translated by Julia
Sanches (Pushkin)

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The longlist comprises books that “speak of courage and kindness, of the vital importance of community, and of the effects of standing up to tyranny”, said prize administrator Fiammetta Rocco. “While some authors and their books might not be familiar to English-speaking readers, they are celebrated in their own countries.”

Kairos by German author Jenny Erpenbeck, translated by Michael Hofmann and The Silver Bone by Ukrainian author Andrey Kurkov, translated by Boris Dralyuk, made the longlist, along with A Dictator Calls by Albanian writer Ismail Kadare, translated by John Hodgson. Kadare won the inaugural Man Booker International prize in 2005, which was then awarded for a full body of work. This year’s judges praised the way A Dictator Calls “explores the tension between authoritarian politicians and creative artists” and described it as “a quest for definitive truth where none is to be found”. Should he win, Kadare would become the first writer to claim the prize twice.

Kurkov’s The Silver Bone: The Kyiv Mysteries is set in war-ravaged 1919 Kyiv. The novel is “imbued with Kurkov’s sense of irony and absurdism,” said the judges. Meanwhile Erpenbeck and Hofmann’s Kairos is the story of two lovers set against the collapse of the GDR. “Kairos is one of the bleakest and most beautiful novels I have ever read,” wrote Natasha Walter in a Guardian review.

The winning author and translator will each receive £25,000. Each shortlisted winner and translator will receive £2,500 each. The six shortlisted books will be revealed on Tuesday 9 April, and the winner at a ceremony in London, which will also be livestreamed, on Tuesday 21 May.

Italian writer Domenico Starnone – rumoured to be the “real” author behind the pen name Elena Ferrante, something he has strongly denied – is also longlisted for the prize with his book The House on Via Gemito, translated by Oonagh Stransky. “A marvellous novel of Naples and its environs, set during and after the second world war,” said prize judges.

This year’s judging panel is chaired by writer and broadcaster Eleanor Wachtel. She is joined by poet Natalie Diaz, novelist Romesh Gunesekera, artist William Kentridge and writer, translator and editor Aaron Robertson.

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South Korean novelist Hwang Sok-yong and translators Sora Kim-Russell and Youngjae Josephine Bae were longlisted for Mater 2-10, a novel tracing a century of Korean history through three generations of a family of rail workers. “The absorbing narrative shunts between grungy realism and what the author terms ‘mindam realism’ – as the translators note, ‘halfway between folklore and plain talk’,” wrote Maya Jaggi in a Guardian review. “The result is oral history spiced with legendary exploits and ghostly appearances by forced labourers.”

Also on the 13-strong longlist is Not a River by Selva Almada, translated by Annie McDermott; Simpatía by Rodrigo Blanco Calderón, translated by Noel Hernández González and Daniel Hahn; The Details by Ia Genberg, translated by Kira Josefsson; White Nights by Urszula Honek, translated by Kate Webster; What I’d Rather Not Think About by Jente Posthuma, translated by Sarah Timmer Harvey; Lost on Me by Veronica Raimo, translated by Leah Janeczko; Crooked Plow by Itamar Vieira Junior, translated by Johnny Lorenz; and Undiscovered by Gabriela Wiener, translated by Julia Sanches.

Previous winners of the prize include Han Kang, Olga Tokarczuk and Lucas Rijneveld. Bulgarian writer Georgi Gospodinov and translator Angela Rodel won the 2023 prize for Time Shelter.



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