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International Booker Prize longlist 2022: Add Korean, Hindi and Norwegian novels to your reading pile

The round-up features previous winners and debut authors alike

Eva Waite-Taylor
Thursday 10 March 2022 09:32
<p>Offering a chance to explore a range of perspectives, cultures, characters and insights, we particularly love this award </p>

Offering a chance to explore a range of perspectives, cultures, characters and insights, we particularly love this award

The International Booker Prize 2022 longlist has been revealed, just days after the Women’s Prize for Fiction’s 16-strong list was announced. This signals that we are very much back in literary award season, and we couldn’t be more excited.

Last year, David Diop became the first French author to win the International Booker with his second novel At Night All Blood is Black (£7.05, Amazon.co.uk) – a story that draws on his Senegalese great grandfather’s silence about his experiences in the First World War to explore the emotional agony of the front line.

And this year’s line-up is as diverse as ever. The panel of five judges had the task of whittling a stellar line-up of 135 submissions down to just 13. The selected titles are translated from 11 languages from 12 different countries, with a novel translated from Hindi featuring for the first time ever.

It’s also good news for independent publishers too, which have dominated this year’s line-up. The list spans a dazzling range of fiction and covers everything from queer identity and youth to bullying and mental health.

The beauty of this particular award is that it’s open to fiction written in any language, with the only prerequisite being it must have been translated into English and published in the UK or Ireland in the past year. Its global nature means it offers the perfect way to discover a full range of different languages, perspectives, cultures, characters and insights.

Read more:

The shortlist will be announced on 7 April, but you’ll have to wait until 26 May for the winner. Until then, we’ve rounded up the entire International Booker Prize 2022 longlist to help you decide which one to read first.

‘Cursed Bunny’ by Bora Chung, translated by Anton Hur, published by Honford Star

  • Language translated from: Korean

A collection of 10 short tales focusing on a range of human themes, from greed to power and money, finishing with a punchy message. The stories are said to be brimming with horror, terror, fantasy and elements of fairy tales. They also explore patriarchy and capitalism in today’s society. This is Chung’s first book to be translated into English.

‘After The Sun’ by Jonas Eika, translated by Sherilyn Nicolette Hellberg, published by Lolli Editions

  • Language translated from: Danish

Eika’s debut After The Sun consists of five short stories that are thrilling and rich in their creativity. Each one transports you to a different place, from Cancun to the Nevada desert or even London. The tales work to shine a light on 21st-century capitalism and exploitation and also explore alienation and life on the margins of a globalised world.

'A New Name: Septology VI-VII’ by Jon Fosse, translated by Damion Searls, published Fitzcarraldo Editions

  • Language translated from: Norwegian

The third instalment of Fosse’s Septology series, A New Name follows the same pattern as its predecessors: each section covers a day in the life of the narrator, Asle. The book is said to resolve some of the confusing aspects of the previous titles (The Other Name: Septology I-II, £12.99, Waterstones.com, and I is Another: Septology: III-V, £12.99, Waterstones.com), which are considered essential reading.

‘More Than I Love My Life’ by David Grossman, translated by Jessica Cohen, published by Vintage, Jonathan Cape

  • Language translated from: Hebrew

Grossman and his translator Cohen are previous winners of the International Booker Prize in 2017 for A Horse Walks Into a Bar (£6.81, Amazon.co.uk).

More Than I Love My Life though follows three generations of women – Vera, age 90; her daughter, Nina; and her granddaughter, Gili – across different times and places. As the story unfolds, more secrets are exposed: in particular, Vera’s moral dilemma and subsequent torture as a political prisoner. It is said to touch on suffering, love and healing.

‘The Book of Mother’ by Violaine Huisman, translated by Leslie Camhi, published by Little, Brown Book Group

  • Language translated from: French

Huisman’s dazzling debut is a deeply moving coming-of-age novel that packs a serious punch. It provides an honest and painstaking portrayal of what it’s like to be a child to a parent with a mental illness. The Book of Mother is the author’s own story and is told with raw emotion.

‘Heaven’ by Mieko Kawakami, translated by Samuel Bett and David Boyd, published by Pan Macmillan

  • Language translated from: Japanese

Heralding from Japan, Kawakami brings us Heaven, a story that follows a 14-year-old protagonist who faces unrelenting torment and bullying until he is offered friendship from a fellow classmate. When The Independent reviewed it the writer noted that reading it makes you “feel like there’s a beautiful, cruel teenage boy sitting on your chest, carelessly tossing his perfect hair while you are slowly suffocated by your own helplessness”. It’s a powerful novel that will stick with you long after you’ve put it down.

‘Paradais’ by Fernanda Melchor, translated by Sophie Hughes, published by Fitzcarraldo Editions

  • Language translated from: Spanish

Set in Mexico, Paradais follows two outcast teenagers and explores the self-destructive nature of youth when faced with poverty and hopelessness. It aims to shine a light on violence and inequality, which Melchor does with enthralling prose.

‘Love in the Big City’ by Sang Young Park, translated by Anton Hur, published by Tilted Axis Press

  • Language translated from: Korean

This empathetic and moving queer coming-of-age novel is split into four sections and follows Young, a fun-loving Korean student who darts from home and college to the beds of recent Tinder matches. It offers a glimpse into the narrator’s hedonistic yet troubling experiences of living in modern-day Seoul, from the glittering nightlife to the bleary-eyed morning after.

‘Happy Stories, Mostly’ by Norman Erikson, translated by Pasaribu Tiffany Tsao, published by Tilted Axis Press

  • Language translated from: Indonesian

Featuring 12 short stories, Happy Stories, Mostly is said to be a genre-blurring book that draws from sci-fi, absurdism and alternative historical realism. Here Erikson challenges the heteronormative world and exposes its underlying rot by putting queer characters into roles normally regarded as stereotypically heterosexual.

‘Elena Knows’ by Claudia Piñeiro, translated by Frances Riddle, published by Charco Press

  • Language translated from: Spanish

This book follows 60-year-old Elena, whose daughter Rita has recently died. People attribute Rita’s passing to suicide, but, her mother thinks she was murdered. Elena Knows is her story as she attempts to uncover the truth. What unravels is a range of secrets and the hidden nature of authoritarianism and hypocrisy in a Catholic society.

‘Phenotypes’ by Paulo Scott, translated by Daniel Hahn, published by And Other Stories

  • Language translated from: Portugese

Set in Brazil, Phenotypes follows the life of two black brothers, Federico and Lourenco, and examines their relationship as well as street life, crime and government treatment. Scott touches on racism, inequality and masculinity in this moving masterpiece.

‘Tomb of Sand’ by Geetanjali Shree, translated by Daisy Rockwell, published by Tilted Axis Press

  • Language translated from: Hindi

Telling the story of an 80-year-old woman who slips into depression following the death of her husband, this book follows her as she goes on a road trip and finds a new lease of life. Shree examines borders, identity and what it means to be a woman.

This title is a particularly exciting addition to the line-up since Shree is the first Hindi writer to be longlisted for the International Booker Prize.

‘The Books of Jacob’ by Olga Tokarczuk, translated by Jennifer Croft, published by Fitzcarraldo Editions

  • Language translated from: Polish

This epic historical novel took Tokarczuk seven years to write and its translated release was eagerly anticipated. Set in the mid-18th century, The Books of Jacob documents the rise and fall of a charismatic mystic leader named Jacob Frank and his group of followers. It delves into the vortex of religion and politics in Eastern Europe at the time. The story is said to be rich with detail.

Tokarczuk previously won the International Booker in 2018, so it’s no surprise that this book has been so well received.

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