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Judges announced for the 2020 International Booker Prize

Judges announced for the 2020 International Booker Prize

The judges for the 2020 International Booker Prize are announced today, 11 July 2019, as submissions for the prize open.


Chaired by Ted Hodgkinson, Head of Literature and Spoken Word at Southbank Centre, the panel consists of: comparative literature and translation specialist Lucie Campos; Man Booker International Prize winning translator and writer Jennifer Croft; writer Valeria Luiselli; and Man Booker Prize shortlisted writer and musican Jeet Thayil.


2020 will be the fifth year of the evolved International Booker Prize. The 2020 judging panel will be looking for the best work of translated fiction, selected from entries published in the UK and Ireland between 1 May 2019 and 30 April 2020.


The 2019 prize was won by the Omani author, Jokha Alharthi, and her translator, Marilyn Booth, for Celestial Bodies, published by Sandstone Press. The £50,000 prize was split equally between author and translator. Following the announcement, Celestial Bodies went straight to number one in the Amazon Contemporary Fiction bestsellers and showed an overall increase of 30 fold in sales.  


Ted Hodgkinson, chair of the judges for 2020, comments: “It's a great honour to chair the International Booker, a prize that recognises literature as an art rooted in dialogue, enabled by ingenuity and precision, but also by the courage of authors and translators alike to carry stories across languages and cultures. Through these miraculous and at times conspiratorial affinities we enter lives beyond our own and renew our shared sense of humanity. It's a particular thrill to be in such stellar company, with polyglot authors, celebrated translators and champions of translated fiction joining me on what promises to be a remarkable reading odyssey.”


Fiammetta Rocco, Administrator of the International Booker Prize, adds: “Writers, readers, critics and translators, the judges of the 2020 International Booker Prize are all professional wordsmiths. They bring a wealth of knowledge and experience to the task of choosing the coming year's best work of translated fiction.”


The “Booker Dozen” of 12 or 13 books will be announced in March 2020 and the shortlist of six books in April. The winner will be announced in May.


The 2020 International Booker Prize judges


Ted Hodgkinson (chair) is a broadcaster, editor, critic, writer and Head of Literature and Spoken Word at Southbank Centre, where he oversees the seasonal literature programme as well as the prestigious annual London Literature Festival. Formerly online editor at Granta magazine, his essays, interviews and reviews have appeared across a range of publications and websites, including the Times Literary Supplement, the Literary Review, the New Statesman, the Spectator, the Literary Hub and the Independent. He is a former British Council literature programmer for the Middle East, North Africa and South Asia. He currently sits on the selection panel for the Rockefeller Foundation’s Bellagio Fellowship, the EBRD Literature Prize 2019 for the best novel in translation and the 2019 Orwell Prize for political writing and has judged a number of other awards. He co-edited, with Icelandic author and poet Sjón, the first anthology of Nordic short stories in English, The Dark Blue Winter Overcoat and other stories from the North (Pushkin Press, 2017), to critical acclaim. In 2018, for a second consecutive year, he was named in The Bookseller’s list of the 100 most influential people in publishing. 

Lucie Campos was born in Dublin and raised in Paris and is a specialist in comparative literature and contemporary fiction in translation. Three times European, she reads six languages. As a lecturer in comparative literature has written about the work of writers such as Sebald, Kertész, Coetzee, Beckett and Kafka, and edited several collective volumes on fiction and history in the 20th century. She has spent the last eight years between London and Paris engaged in developing and creating projects to promote literature in translation and to bring more writers in translation into festivals, schools, and public debate, for institutions such as the Institut français global network and the Collège de France. As head of books at the French Institute in London, she created the annual Beyond Words Festival as well as projects such as the European Writers’ Tour and Franco-German Triangular Talks, while coordinating the Burgess translation fund and the South Ken Kids Festival.

Jennifer Croft won the 2018 Man Booker International Prize for her translation from Polish of Olga Tokarczuk’s Flights. She has also received NEA, Cullman, PEN, Fulbright and MacDowell fellowships and grants, as well as the inaugural Michael Henry Heim Prize for Translation, the 2018 Found in Translation Award. She was awarded a Tin House Scholarship for her novel Homesick, originally written in Spanish, which is forthcoming in English from Unnamed Press in September, in Spanish from Editorial Entropía and in Polish from Wydawnictwo Literackie in 2020.

Valeria Luiselli was born in Mexico City and now lives in New York. She is the author of the novels Faces in the Crowd and The Story of My Teeth, the latter of which won the 2016 LA Times Book Prize for Fiction; the essay collection Sidewalks and the essay Tell Me How It Ends, which won the American Book Award in 2018. Her most recent novel, Lost Children Archive, which was longlisted for the Women’s Prize for Fiction 2019, is her first to be written in English. She is widely published internationally. She judged the Pen America Literary Award in 2019 and the Neustadt International Prize for Literature in 2016.

Jeet Thayil was born into a Syrian Christian family in Kerala in 1959. He worked as a journalist for 23 years in Bombay, Bangalore, Hong Kong and New York. In 2006 he began to write fiction. His first novel, Narcopolis, was awarded the DSC Prize for South Asian Literature and was shortlisted for the Man Booker prize. His five poetry collections include These Errors Are Correct, which won the Sahitya Akademi Award (India’s National Academy of Letters), and English, winner of a New York Foundation for the Arts award. As a musician his collaborations include the noise quintet Still Dirty, the experimental trio HMT, and the opera Babur in London. His most recent novel is The Book of Chocolate Saints.