The list of finalists includes Iraqi writer Ahmed Saadawi's Frankenstein in Baghdad, which depicts real and imaginary horrors after the US-led invasion of Iraq.
Lisa Appignanesi, chair of the prize's judging panel, said, "This is a shortlist emblematic of the many adventures of fiction – its making and reading. We have mesmeric meditations, raucous, sexy, state- of- the- nation stories, haunting sparseness and sprawling tales; enigmatic cabinets of curiosity, and daring acts of imaginative projection – all this plus sparkling encounters with prose in translation.
She added: "We were sorry to have shed so much of our longlist talent, but this is a shortlist to read and re-read."
South Korea's Han Kang, who won in 2016 for The Vegetarian is nominated again for her meditative novel The White Book. Novels from France, Spain, Hungary and Poland are also on the list.
The prize is a counterpart to the Man Booker Prize for English-language novels and is open to books published in any language that have been translated into English.
The £50,000 award is split evenly between the writer and the translator.
This year's shortlist is mostly represented by independent publishers, with two books from Tuskar Rock Press, and one each from MacLehose Press, Portobello Books, Oneworld and Fitzcarraldo Editions.
In 2017, David Grossman took home the prize for A Horse Walks Into a Bar. It was translated by Jessica Cohen.
A week later, sales of the book increased by 1,367 per cent, resulting in Penguin having to reprint it 10 times because of consumer demand.
In its first year, it sold 53 times more than Grossman’s previous paperback book, Falling Out of Time.
George Saunders won the Man Booker prize in 2017, for the best original novel written in the English language and published in the UK.
Ahead of the winner announcement, there will be several public events featuring some of the judges, authors and translators including a "Translation at its Finest" event in partnership with Foyles and English PEN on 17 May and a Man Booker International Prize event with Waterstones on 21 May.
The winner of this year's contest will be announced the following day.
Here's the shortlist in full:
Vernon Subutex 1 - Virginie Despentes (MacLehose Press)
The White Book - Han Kang (Portobello Books)
The World Goes On - László Krasznahorkai (Tuskar Rock Press)
Like a Fading Shadow - Antonio Muñoz Molina (Tuskar Rock Press)
Frankenstein in Baghdad - Ahmed Saadawi (Oneworld)
Flights - Olga Tokarczuk (Fitzcarraldo Editions)
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