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International Booker Prize 2023: Six books shortlisted, Tamil 'Pyre' misses

Last year, the award was won by Geetanjali Shree and translator Daisy Rockwell for 'Tomb of Sand', the first Hindi novel to win the prize



BS Web Team New Delhi

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The shortlist for International Booker Prize 2023 was unveiled at the London Book Fair on Tuesday. The coveted literary prize is awarded annually for a work of fiction written originally in any language, translated into English and published in the United Kingdom (UK) or Ireland. Last year, it was won by Geetanjali Shree and translator Daisy Rockwell for the first-ever Hindi novel to win the prize, "Tomb of Sand".

The prize money of 50,000 British pound sterling is shared between the writer and translator of the winning work. The award will be announced on May 23. For the six shortlisted books, 5,000 British pound sterling will be divided equally between the writer and translator.

Novelist Leila Slimani is the chair of the judges for this year's prize. She was joined by British literary translator Uilleam Blacker, Booker-shortlisted Malaysian novelist Tan Twan Eng; Parul Sehgal, staff writer and critic at the New Yorker, and Frederick Studemann, literary editor of the Financial Times.

Six books on the International Booker Prize 2023 shortlist

The six books to be shortlisted from the so-called Booker Dozen of 13 longlisted novels include: "Boulder" in Catalan by Eva Baltasar, "Whale" in Korean by Cheon Myeong-kwan, "The Gospel According to the New World" in French by Maryse Cond, "Standing Heavy" in French by Gauz, "Time Shelter" in Bulgarian by Georgi Gospodinov, and "Still Born" in Spanish by Guadalupe Nettel.

This is the first nomination for books translated from Bulgarian and Catalan. Interestingly, the wife-husband author-translator team of Maryse Cond and Richard Philcox got shortlisted for their French novel, "The Gospel According to the New World". They are the first such duo ever to be shortlisted for the prize.

Conde, 86, dictated the novel to Philcox as she has a degenerative neurological disorder that makes it difficult to speak and see.

Two of the novels, "Whale" and "Standing Heavy" are the authors' debuts.

Slimani said that the list was "very cool, very sexy".

"I think I speak for the whole jury when I say that I am proud of this list. I think it's a very cool, very sexy list. We wanted each book to feel like astonishment and to stand on its own," she said.

"These books are all bold, subversive, nicely perverse. There is something sneaky about a lot of them. I also feel that these are sensual books, where the question of the body is important. What is it like to have a body? How do you write about the experience of the body? These are not abstract or theoretical books, but on the contrary, very grounded books, about people, places, and moments. All these authors also question the narrative and what it means to write a novel today," she added.

Tamil novel misses out on the shortlist

Perumal Murugan's Tamil novel "Pyre", translated into English by Aniruddhan Vasudevan, missed out on the next stage of the International Booker Prize 2023. It was longlisted earlier this month with 12 other books.

Murugan's "Pyre", which tells the love story of an inter-caste couple, made history last month as the first-ever work in Tamil to make the longlist of the prize.

"Just a few minutes back someone broke the news to me. I am very happy, and this is a great acceptance of my writing...' Pyre' deals with honour killing. Honour killing is a very big problem in our country, I hope more people get to know about this issue after this recognition," Murugan had told PTI after the longlist was announced.

The 56-year-old Tamil Nadu-born and based author, scholar and poet has written 10 novels, five collections of short stories and four anthologies of poetry and is working on his next novel.

The winner of the International Booker Prize 2023 will be announced at a ceremony at Sky Garden in London on May 23.

--With inputs from agencies

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First Published: Apr 19 2023 | 2:43 PM IST

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