The judges for the International Booker Prize 2024 are revealed today, July 13, 2023, as the prize opens for submissions
The panel is chaired by esteemed writer and broadcaster Eleanor Wachtel and includes award-winning poet Natalie Diaz; Booker Prize-shortlisted novelist Romesh Gunesekera; ground-breaking visual artist William Kentridge; and acclaimed writer, editor and translator Aaron Robertson.
The 2024 judging panel will be looking for the best work of fiction translated into English, selected from entries published in the UK or Ireland between May 1, 2023 and April 30, 2024.
Publishers are also now invited to enter their books for the 2024 prize.
The winners will receive £50,000; £25,000 goes to the author and £25,000 to the translator. There will be a prize of £5,000 for each of the shortlisted titles: £2,500 for the author and £2,500 for the translator.
The International Booker Prize continues to build in global importance every year. The announcement of the International Booker Prize 2023 winner, Time Shelter, written by novelist and poet Georgi Gospodinov and translated from Bulgarian by Angela Rodel, was met with huge public and critical acclaim. The first work written in Bulgarian to win the Prize, Time Shelter’s darkly humorous satire on national identity and the dangers of nostalgia has been embraced by readers across the world who have responded to its timely political theme. Time Shelter sold 1,300 copies in hardback, before it was longlisted; 20,000 paperback copies were sold in the first ten days after it won the prize.
‘The impact of the International Booker Prize is growing by leaps and bounds as younger readers flock to fiction translated into English. We discovered that of the two million works of translated fiction sold in Britain last year, half were bought by readers under 35 with the two most popular languages being Japanese and Korean.
‘The prize’s reach on social media is now over 27.6 million, and the views of our filmed actor readings for the 2023 shortlist were up 5,690% on the previous year.
‘As writers, poets, artists and translators, Eleanor Wachtel and the four other judges of the International Booker Prize 2024 will extend the reach of the prize still further as they examine the ways in which authors and translators from around the globe are making sense of the world we live in.’
‘Over more than 30 years of interviewing the very best international authors, I have come to understand the power of translators to open borders of the imagination and to create a worldwide community of readers.
‘Alongside those writers who speak to us of the culture of their homelands, many of the finest voices also come from diasporic experiences, of displacement and exile. They bring us a bifocal image of the world – where they’ve come from and where they’ve landed. The translation of their work into English carries this movement forward.
‘Literature subverts, it questions the lines we draw between people and places, our expectations, revealing an interiority that can change everything.
‘I’m so looking forward to sharing these explorations with my fellow judges – an ad hoc book club of renowned writers, artists and readers.’
The International Booker Prize longlist of 12 or 13 books will be announced in March 2024 and the shortlist of six books in April. The winning title will be announced at a ceremony in May.
Data compiled by Nielsen for the Booker Prize Foundation shows that, in the UK, readers of translated fiction are significantly younger than readers of fiction overall. Under 35s now account for almost half of all the UK’s translated fiction purchases: the largest group, 25 to 34-year-olds, purchased almost a quarter (24.9%) of all translated fiction in 2022; 13 to 24-year-olds bought a further 17.3%, bringing the total proportion of translated fiction bought by readers under the age of 35 to 48.2%. By comparison, the biggest demographic group for fiction in general is made up of readers aged 60 to 84.
The proportion of younger readers of translated fiction is also growing: that 24.9% of translated fiction bought by 25 to 34-year-olds in 2002 is up from 21% in 2021. In addition, 48% of translated fiction buyers in the UK are male, compared with only 32% of fiction buyers overall. Read more here.
Eleanor Wachtel (Chair), co-founder and host for more than 30 years of the flagship programme, ‘Writers & Company’, on Canada’s CBC Radio, is rightly known as one of the world’s finest literary interviewers. Five books of her interviews have been published, including Random Illuminations (Goose Lane Editions, 2007), a collection of reflections, correspondence and conversations with Carol Shields, which won the Independent Publisher Book Award; Original Minds (HarperCollins, 2003); and, most recently, The Best of Writers & Company (Biblioasis, 2016). She also co-founded and hosted ‘Wachtel on the Arts’, featuring conversations with film-makers, composers, architects and artists, as well as the Toronto International Film Festival’s popular ‘Books on Film’ series for more than a decade. She has received numerous accolades for her contributions to Canadian cultural life, nine honorary degrees and Officer of the Order of Canada.
Natalie Diaz is an award-winning poet whose work is published by Faber in the UK and Graywolf in the US. Her latest collection, Postcolonial Love Poem, won the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry in 2021 and was shortlisted for the National Book Award in the US and the Forward Prize in the UK. Her debut collection, When My Brother Was an Aztec (Copper Canyon Press, 2012), won the American Book Award in 2013. Diaz was born and raised in the Fort Mojave Indian Village in Needles, California, on the banks of the Colorado River. Diaz is Mojave and an enrolled member of the Gila River Indian Tribe. She has been awarded a MacArthur Foundation ‘genius’ grant, a Lannan Foundation Fellowship, a Native Arts Council Foundation Fellowship, and both Princeton University’s Holmes National Poetry Prize and Hodder Fellowship. She is currently director of the Center for Imagination in the Borderlands at Arizona State University.
Romesh Gunesekera is internationally acclaimed for fiction that explores key themes of our times – political, ecological, economic - through novels and stories of wide appeal that spotlight the complexities of people’s lives and the choices they are forced to make. His ten books include Reef, shortlisted for the Booker Prize in 1994, The Sandglass, (given the inaugural BBC Asia Award), and The Match, a pathbreaking cricket novel. Noontide Toll (2014), is a darkly humorous cycle of linked stories that capture a vital moment in post-war Sri Lanka. His most recent novel, Suncatcher (2019), returns to an earlier era in Ceylon and a story of divided loyalties and endangered friendship in the turbulent 1960s. Gunesekera has been widely translated and won numerous prizes for his fiction including a Premio Mondello (Italy). He was the Chair of the judges of the Commonwealth Short Story prize in 2015 and has also judged Granta’s Best of Young British Novelists (2013), the Caine Prize and the Sunday Times Audible Short Story Award among others. He is the co-author of the Writers’ & Artists’ Companion to Novel Writing and has run fiction workshops and masterclasses internationally. He is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature.
William Kentridge‘s ground-breaking exhibition at the Royal Academy of Arts in 2022 – his biggest ever in the UK – explored 40 years of visionary storytelling and translation through drawing, film, animation, printmaking, tapestry and sculpture. The Financial Times described the show as ‘elegiac, unexpected and wonderful’. It attracted over 100,000 visitors. From his base in Johannesburg, where he was born, Kentridge works across artistic mediums, often with dozens of collaborators, to make art that is grounded in history, literature, politics and science. His work has been seen in museums and galleries internationally since the 1990s and can be found in private collections and institutions across the globe. He has directed operas for the Metropolitan Opera in New York, La Scala in Milan, the English National Opera in London, the Salzburg Festival and others. His original works for stage combine performance, projections, shadow play, voice and music. Kentridge is the recipient of honorary doctorates from several universities including Yale, Columbia and the University of London. He has been awarded the Kyoto Prize (2010), the Princesa de Asturias Award in 2017 and the Praemium Imperiale Prize in 2019.
Aaron Robertson is a writer, translator, and editor at New York publisher Spiegel & Grau. His translation of Igiaba Scego’s novel, Beyond Babylon (Two Lines Press, 2019), was shortlisted for the 2019 PEN Translation Prize and the National Translation Award. In 2021 he received a National Endowment for the Arts grant to support his translation of Giulia Caminito’s The Big A. He has served on the board of the American Literary Translators Association and is currently an advisory editor for The Paris Review. His debut book, The Black Utopians, will be published by Farrar, Straus and Giroux in 2024. Robertson has been a contributor to two books, The Heart of a Stranger: An Anthology of Exile Literature (Pushkin Press, 2019) and Violent Phenomena: 21 Essays on Translation (Tilted Axis Press, 2022). His work has also appeared in The New York Times, The Nation, Foreign Policy, n+1, The Point, Literary Hub and elsewhere. His writing has received support from the Robert B. Silvers Foundation, the McCoy Family Center for Ethics in Society at Stanford University and the Lewis Center for the Arts at Princeton University.
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The Booker Prizes exist to reward the world’s best fiction. The symmetrical relationship between the Booker Prize and the International Booker Prize ensures that the Booker honours fiction on a global basis: outstanding fiction is highlighted by the prizes for English-speaking readers, whether that work was originally written in English (the Booker Prize) or translated into English (the International Booker Prize).
The International Booker Prize began life in 2005 as a biennial prize for a body of work, and there was no stipulation that the work should be written in a language other than English. Early winners include Chinua Achebe, Alice Munro, Lydia Davis and Philip Roth, as well as Ismail Kadare and Laszlo Krasznahorkai.
In 2015, after the rules of the original Booker Prize expanded to allow writers of any nationality to enter - as long as their books were written in English and published in the UK – the International Booker Prize evolved to become the mirror image of the English-language prize. Since then it has been awarded annually for a single book, written in another language and translated into English.
International Booker Prize 2023 films
For the 2023 prize, Sharon Horgan’s production company Mermade produced a series of short films featuring six of the UK and Ireland’s best known actors reading extracts from the books on the shortlist. The films, directed by Hannah Berry George, have been viewed online over three million times and can be watched here.
The Booker Prize Podcast
The Booker Prize Podcast was launched on July 6, 2023 to cast a fresh eye over some of the 500+ novels previously nominated, as well as peering behind the curtain of the latest prizes. The weekly podcast features lively discussion and comment, and interviews with authors and many others who take a keen interest in modern fiction. Hosted by novelist and critic Jo Hamya and critic and broadcaster James Walton, the podcast will delve into the fascinating history of the Booker Prizes, looking at the shortlists and ceremonies from years gone by – and some of the Booker’s more controversial moments.
The Booker Prize 2023
The Booker Prize is the leading literary award in the English-speaking world. It was first awarded in 1969 and has brought recognition, reward and readership to outstanding fiction for over five decades. The 2023 longlist will be announced on Tuesday, August 01, 2023, shortlist on Thursday, September 14 and winner on Sunday, November 26.
Crankstart, a charitable foundation, is the exclusive funder of the Booker Prizes.
Full notes to editors can be found here.