The International Booker Prize 2024 shortlist ‘interweaves the intimate and political in radically original ways’

Today, Tuesday 9 April, the 2024 shortlist for the International Booker Prize, the world’s most significant award for a single work of translated fiction, is announced

Publication date and time: Published
  • Six languages (Dutch, German, Korean, Portuguese, Spanish and Swedish), six countries (Argentina, Brazil, Germany, Netherlands, South Korea and Sweden) and three continents (Asia, Europe and South America) are represented
  • Chair of judges Eleanor Wachtel says: ‘Our shortlist, while implicitly optimistic, engages with current realities of racism and oppression, global violence and ecological disaster’
  • International Booker Prize Administrator Fiammetta Rocco adds: ‘The books cast a forensic eye on divided families and divided societies, revisiting pasts both recent and distant to help make sense of the present’
  • Among the authors and translators, nine women and four men are shortlisted
  • Several countries on the shortlist have a strong International Booker Prize pedigree: South Korea is represented for the third year running and Argentina for the fourth time in five years 
  • Itamar Viera Junior is shortlisted for his debut novel, Crooked Plow, and Hwang Sok-yong is shortlisted for his ninth book translated into English. Previously longlisted authors Hwang and Jenny Erpenbeck and translator Sora Kim-Russell progress to the shortlist for the first time
  • Five of the books are published by independents, including two from Scribe UK. Indies have won the prize six times out of eight since 2016

Further reading:  Six things you need to know about shortlist


Each year the International Booker Prize introduces readers to the best novels and short story collections from around the globe that have been translated into English and published in the UK and/or Ireland. The prize recognises the vital work of translators with the £50,000 prize money divided equally: £25,000 for the author and £25,000 for the translator (or divided equally between multiple translators). In addition, there is a prize of £5,000 for each of the shortlisted titles: £2,500 for the author and £2,500 for the translator (or divided equally between multiple translators).

The six books on the shortlist have been chosen by this year’s judging panel, chaired by esteemed writer and broadcaster Eleanor Wachtel. She is joined by award-winning poet Natalie Diaz; Booker Prize-shortlisted novelist Romesh Gunesekera; ground-breaking visual artist William Kentridge; and writer, editor and translator Aaron Robertson

The International Booker Prize 2024 ceremony will take place from 7pm BST on Tuesday, 21 May. It is being held for the first time in the Turbine Hall at London’s Tate Modern. Highlights from the event, including the announcement of the winning book for 2024, will be livestreamed on the Booker Prizes’ channels, presented by YouTuber Jack Edwards, who is known as the ‘internet’s resident librarian’.

The shortlist was chosen from a longlist of 13 titles announced in March, which was selected from 149 books published in the UK and/or Ireland between May 1, 2023 and April 30, 2024 and submitted to the prize by publishers.

Group photo of the International Booker Prize 2024 Judges; William Kentridge, Natalie Diaz, Eleanor Wachtel, Aaron Robertson and Romesh Gunesekera.

The International Booker Prize 2024 shortlist is:


Eleanor Wachtel, International Booker Prize 2024 Chair of judges, says:

‘Reading is a necessary enlargement of human experience. Why be confined to one perspective, one life? Novels carry us to places where we might never set foot and connect us with new sensations and memories. Our shortlist opens onto vast geographies of the mind, often showing lives lived against the backdrop of history or, more precisely, interweaving the intimate and the political in radically original ways. 

‘These books bear the weight of the past while at the same time engaging with current realities of racism and oppression, global violence and ecological disaster. Some seem altogether timeless in their careful and vivid accounts of the dynamics of family, love and heartbreak, trauma and grief. 

‘Hwang Sok-yong’s multi-dimensional epic tale, Mater 2-10, threads together three generations of Korean railroad workers; in Swedish author Ia Genberg’s quiet chronicle of four characters, The Details, the quotidian gains density and breadth; the story of subsistence farmers in Itamar Vieira Junior’s Crooked Plow reveals a blend of magical and social realism amidst brutality in Brazil’s poorest region; Dutch novelist Jente Posthuma’s smart, compelling portrayal of sibling love and loss informs What I’d Rather Not Think About.

‘The thing about great writing is that it’s implicitly optimistic. From Selva Almada’s economical evocation of foreboding and danger in a remote corner of Argentina, Not a River, to Kairos, Jenny Erpenbeck’s intense, rich drama about the entanglement of personal and national transformations during the dying years of East Germany, words have the power to make connections and inhabit other sensibilities – to illuminate.’

Portrait of Eleanor Wachtel.

Fiammetta Rocco, Administrator of the International Booker Prize, adds:

‘The six books shortlisted for the International Booker Prize 2024 cast a forensic eye on divided families and divided societies, revisiting pasts both recent and distant to help make sense of the present and exploring what happens when territory is claimed, disturbed and disputed.

‘Reading 149 books in six months takes courage. The judges of the International Booker Prize 2024, led by Eleanor Wachtel, rose brilliantly to the challenge of tackling the largest number of books ever submitted for the prize. Born on three continents, the five panellists drew on a lifetime of experience as readers, writers and translators, bringing conviction, insight and laughter to their monthly discussions, certain in the knowledge that great fiction creates empathy and forever changes the reader. 

‘The judging panel will meet one last time, in London, next month to choose the winner for 2024. The victorious title – its author and translator – will be announced on 21 May at a ceremony at Tate Modern, aptly known as the home of “great art from around the world”.’

Fiammetta Rocco

Quotes from the shortlistees, along with judges’ comments on the shortlisted books

Not a River by Selva Almada, translated from Spanish by Annie McDermott

The author said: ‘I wanted to write this story because it is also part of my own story: Not a River is inspired by the territory where I was born and raised, by the people who inhabit that land and who, in many cases, were marginalised by neoliberal policies that condemn the majority to poverty and to an absence of minimum rights such as the right to work, to education and to health. This is my humble tribute to my land: to its rivers, its animals, its trees and the people who live in it.’

The translator said: ‘The voices in Selva Almada’s novels are so distinctive and so far from my own that I have to go looking for them elsewhere. For Not a River, I read a whole stack of fishing-related books, from Hemingway’s The Old Man and the Sea to The River Why, David James Duncan’s genuinely wonderful account of a life spent trout-fishing in Oregon, and I also spent hours trawling (no pun intended) through fishing forums and YouTube videos.’

The judges said: ‘A deceptively simple novel about a seemingly bucolic fishing trip in Argentina which slowly reveals a deep sense of foreboding and memories of trauma. The economy and clarity of the writing hold the reader from the very beginning, while the author feels like a secure guide, taking us by the hand through dangerous terrain.’

Not a River

Kairos by Jenny Erpenbeck, translated from German by Michael Hofmann

The author said: ‘It’s a private story of a big love and its decay, but it’s also a story of the dissolution of a whole political system. Simply put: How can something that seems right in the beginning, turn into something wrong? This transition interested me.’

The translator said: ‘[Fiction in translation] incorporates distance and difference and teaches empathy. Down with the monstrous idiocy of relatability! Books don’t exist to be about you.’

The judges said: ‘Uncomfortable and complex, this is a richly textured evocation of a tormented love affair in the dying years of East Germany, which shows how the weight of history impinges on our lives. In fluid, musical sentences, Erpenbeck brings the reader close to her characters and to the fraught demands they face.’


The Details by la Genberg, translated from Swedish by Kira Josefsson 

The author said: ‘I started just as the woman in the novel starts, in a COVID fever in April 2020, when I went to my bookshelf and picked up a random book that fell open in my hands, revealing a small inscription from the person who had given me the book 25 years earlier. At the feverish sight of these handwritten lines, I was struck by a very clear memory that played in a certain tone in my head, and from that experience, I simply started writing.’

The translator said: ‘Ia [Genberg] builds this novel with sentences that are long and meandering, a quality that’s integral to the exploration of memory and time’s passage that makes up the humming bassline of the book. English is, of course, fond of brief, effective statements. Part of what’s fun about translation is getting to push and stretch linguistic conventions of the language you’re translating into.’

The judges said: ‘A delicately written Swedish novel that speaks to our contemporary experiences of connection and isolation and which shows how quickly people move in and out of our lives. This is a book about friendship and loss in which the narrator quickly becomes a companion to whose voice you want to continue listening until the very end.’

The Details

Mater 2-10 by Hwang Sok-yong, translated from Korean by Sora Kim-Russell and Youngjae Josephine Bae

The author said: ‘The inspiration for this novel was an elderly gentleman I met during my visit to North Korea in 1989. During the Japanese colonial occupation, he was a locomotive engineer who drove trains across the entire Korean peninsula, all the way up to Changchun in mainland China. He went north after the start of the Korean War. I was delighted to learn that his family had lived in the rail workers’ housing very close to where I’d grown up. I took copious notes at the time, as I knew I wanted to write about my memories of the place, his memories. I had no idea it would take me over 30 years to do so.’

The translators said: ‘Translated stories set in an unfamiliar background, told in a different literary style, yet exploring universal themes, can entertain and broaden the minds of readers just as much as stories written in their original language.’

The judges said: ‘A passionate novel of Korean resilience, which depicts the miracles of determination and survival of an entire culture through its most despairing and hopeful times.’

Mater 2-10

What I’d Rather Not Think About by Jente Posthuma, translated from Dutch by Sarah Timmer Harvey

The author said: ‘For me, each book begins very personally, with something happening within myself. For this book, it was the emotions I experienced when the one person I thought would always be there withdrew from my life. It was as if suddenly I had no ground beneath my feet and was falling into an endless abyss. My situation was very different from the protagonist’s situation in my book – nobody died – but the feelings were similar. It was a grieving process.’

The translator said: ‘For What I’d Rather Not Think About, I was searching for a particular voice in English. It’s Gen X/elder millennial, darkly humorous, covertly anxious, a little jaded and occasionally quite oblivious. That balance can be difficult to strike. The other thing I’m always inspired by is the sound of the original text. Whether it’s poetry or fiction, I like to replicate the sound of the original Dutch wherever possible. It’s the greatest compliment when a writer says my translation sounds like theirs when they read it aloud.’

The judges said: ‘A moving portrait of the intertwining lives of Dutch twins, grappling with the complexities of identity, loss, and the unspoken bonds that define us. The book’s raw exploration of a sibling relationship, coupled with a rare authenticity in depicting the process of mourning, provides a narrative that’s both uniquely insightful and tender in its humanity.’

What i'd Rather Not Think About

Crooked Plow by Itamar Vieira Junior, translated from Portuguese by Johnny Lorenz 

The author said: ‘I wrote Crooked Plow for many reasons, but if I had to choose just one, I’d say this: I wanted to bring to the page the love that Brazilian farmers feel for the land itself, for the earth of the Brazilian countryside. For me, to write is an experience of surprise – a surprise quite similar to that of reading. I never know in advance the path my story will take.’

The translator said: ‘I translated Crooked Plow over the course of three years. My first step was to get everything down in English, but the first draft of a chapter is like a shipwreck on the page. I return to it and keep returning; I tinker and fix and reassemble. Sometimes a hammer is needed, sometimes sandpaper. When things are going well, the translator can feel the energy shifting, and the mainsail fills with wind.’

The judges said: ‘An evocative journey into the heart of rural Brazil, which speaks to the importance of remembering our histories and protecting the land that sustains us. The novel’s deep dive into the quilombo communities offers a unique window into a world where the legacy of resistance and the fight for land rights weave through the personal and collective narratives of its characters, a perspective rarely captured with such intimacy and authenticity.’

Read full interviews with the shortlistees here, and what the judges said about the shortlist here.

Crooked Plow

More information on the nominees

This is the third year running a South Korean author has been shortlisted, after Cheon Myeong-kwan (Whale, 2023) and Bora Chung (Cursed Bunny, 2022). Hwang Sok-yong (Mater 2-10) is bidding to become the second South Korean winner of the prize since Han Kang (The Vegetarian, 2016). Jente Posthuma (What I’d Rather Not Think About) is in the running to become the second Dutch winner after Lucas Rijneveld (The Discomfort of Evening, 2020). Authors from Germany, Brazil, Sweden and Argentina have never won the prize. 

Jente Posthuma is shortlisted for her second novel – her first to be translated into English. Mater 2-10 is Hwang Sok-yong’s ninth book to be translated into English. The oldest author on the shortlist, at 81, Hwang was longlisted for the prize in 2019 for At Dusk.

Selva Almada (Not a River) is the fourth author from Argentina to be shortlisted since 2020, after Claudia Piñeiro (Elena Knows, 2022), Mariana Enríquez (The Dangers of Smoking in Bed, 2021) and Gabriela Cabezón Cámara (The Adventures of China Iron, 2020). Almada is the author of 10 published works since 2003, including collections of poetry and short stories.

Jenny Erpenbeck (Kairos) is the first German author to be shortlisted since 2020, when Daniel Kehlmann was shortlisted for Tyll. Kairos is Jenny Erpenbeck’s fourth novel, all of which have been translated into English. In 2015, her novel The End of Days, translated by Susan Bernofsky, won the UK’s Independent Foreign Fiction Prize, the precursor to this prize, and in 2018 she was longlisted for the International Booker Prize for Go, Went, Gone.

Authors representing Brazil (Itamar Viera Junior) and Sweden (Ia Genberg) appear on the shortlist for the first time. 

Itamar Viera Junior – the youngest author on the list, at 44 – is shortlisted for his debut novel. While relatively unknown in the UK until recently, Crooked Plow has been translated into 25 languages and is one of the most acclaimed and commercially successful Brazilian novels of recent years. 

The Details was a bestseller in Ia Genberg’s homeland, was the winner of the August Prize – Sweden’s equivalent to the Booker Prize – and has been translated into 29 languages. 

None of this year’s translators has been shortlisted for the prize before, although Sora Kim-Russell was longlisted in 2019 for her translation of Hwang Sok-yong’s At DuskMichael Hofmann, who is shortlisted for his translation of Kairos, was a judge for the 2018 prize. 

Several of the works draw on personal experiences. Jenny Erpenbeck grew up in East Berlin and was a similar age to the young central character in Kairos when communism collapsed. In Mater 2-10, Hwang Sok-yong, born in 1943, tells the complex story of a century of Korean history, from occupation to partition. The book takes inspiration from Hwang’s own involvement in labour and pro-democracy movements and run-ins with the authorities; he spent five years in prison for breaking South Korean security rules and visiting North Korea in 1989. 

Crooked Plow, set among an Afro-Brazilian farming community in one of Brazil’s poorest regions, is informed by the 15 years Itamar Viera Junior spent working in land reform for Brazil’s federal government. Not a River is inspired by the rural Argentinian landscapes where Selva Almada was born and raised. It is, she says, a tribute to the people who inhabit the land of her youth and who were left marginalised and condemned to poverty by government policies. 

Four female and two male authors make up the shortlist, as well five female and two male translators. Since 2016, when the format of the prize changed to become an annual award for a single work, there have been 47% more female authors and translators who have been shortlisted than male.   

Five of the books on the 2024 shortlist are published by independents (Charco Press, Granta, Verso and Scribe UK), with two published by the latter (Mater 2-10 and What I’d Rather Not Think About). Since 2016, indie publishers have dominated the prize – it has only been won twice by a conglomerate, in 2017 (Jonathan Cape, PRH) and 2023 (Weidenfeld & Nicolson, Hachette). Of the shortlisted publishers in 2024, only Granta has won the prize before, with The Vegetarian.


The International Booker Prize 2024 Reading Challenge

The Reading Challenge, which was launched last month, encourages individuals and book clubs to explore the 2024 longlist and shortlist, share their thoughts, and connect with other readers from around the world via the Booker Prizes social channels. The challenge is supported with content on the Booker Prizes website including reading guides, extracts, interviews and features, as well as downloadable assets to allow readers to track their progress, and a competition to win a £200 National Book Token. 

The challenge is supported by, which is offering UK readers a 10% discount on all longlisted titles until 23 April. The Booker Prizes has also created posters, postcards and other assets for libraries and bookshops, and has selected six Reading Challenge Ambassadors – three librarians and three booksellers from across the UK – to take part in the challenge and share their progress on their own social media and via the Booker Prizes’ digital channels. One of the ambassadors will be chosen at random to attend the ceremony in May. More information on the Reading Challenge can be found here and interviews with the ambassadors here.

IBP Reading Challenge hero

A partnership with The Notting Hill Bookshop 

From 9 May to 24 May, the globally renowned The Notting Hill Bookshop in London will dedicate itself to the International Booker Prize. The shop featured in the hit film Notting Hill, which celebrates the 25th anniversary of its release on 21 May this year, has seen its sales rise exponentially since the pandemic. The shop attributes this in large part to a new wave of young customers driven by BookTok, many of whom are increasingly drawn to translated fiction.

As an established promoter of global writing, The Notting Hill Bookshop will create displays for the longlist, shortlist and winner of the International Booker Prize, as well as showcasing bespoke recommendations of great fiction in translation provided by the nominated authors and translators. A video to celebrate the partnership, featuring interviews with the team behind The Notting Hill Bookshop, will be released on the Booker Prizes and the bookshop’s social media channels at the start of May. 

Shortlist films

For the fourth time, the Booker Prizes has partnered with Sharon Horgan’s production company Merman on a series of six short films, each featuring a well-known performer reading an extract from one of the shortlisted books. The new films are directed by Charlotte Hamblin and will be released in late April on the Booker Prizes’ social media channels, and shown at the International Booker Prize 2024 ceremony in May. The films showcasing the Booker Prize 2023 shortlist were viewed over 13 million times. Previous performers have included David Harewood, Anna Friel, Aisling Bea, Caitríona Balfe, Alfred Enoch, Bel Powley, Paterson Joseph and Jarvis Cocker.

Forthcoming events

  • Shortlist readings at Southbank Centre

An evening of shortlist readings on Friday, 17 May, 2024, 7.45pm in the Purcell Room, Southbank Centre, London, chaired by academic, broadcaster and former Booker Prize judge Shahidha Bari. 

  • Winner event at Foyles Charing Cross Road

The first public event with the winning author and translator at Foyles Charing Cross Road, London, on Thursday, 23 May at 7pm. 

  • Winner event at the Hay Festival 

The prize’s annual visit to the festival occurs at 7pm on Saturday, 27 May, when International Booker Prize judge and novelist Romesh Gunesekera and Booker Prize Foundation Chief Executive Gaby Wood will be in conversation with the winning author and translator of the International Booker Prize 2024.

Caitriona Balfe reads Prophet Song by Paul Lynch

The International Booker Prize’s impact

The winner of the International Booker Prize can expect international recognition and a significant uplift in global sales. In the week after Time Shelter, written by Georgi Gospodinov and translated by Angela Rodel, won the International Booker Prize 2023, its publisher Weidenfeld & Nicolson saw a 435% increase in sales compared to the previous week. It has now sold over 92,000 copies of the book across all its editions.

Before the 2023 longlist was announced, Time Shelter had been licensed in 23 territories, in addition to Bulgaria. Since then, agreements have been reached in a further 14 territories.

Time Shelter was selected as a Waterstones Paperback of the Year, and the publisher has overseen a new unabridged audio production narrated by award-winning film, television and theatre star Toby Stephens. Stephens previously performed an extract of Time Shelter in the International Booker Prize’s shortlist film series, which can be watched here. An interview with Georgi Gospodinov and Angela Rodel can be heard on the Booker Prize Podcast here.

The popularity of translated fiction

In 2023, according to Nielsen BookData sales of translated fiction grew by 11% in value to £25m in the UK (fiction overall grew 4%) and 3% in volume (fiction overall was down 5%). Translated fiction is also beloved by younger readers: in 2022, according to research by Nielsen commissioned by the Booker Prize Foundation, 48% of all translated fiction was purchased by under 35s (vs 32% for Overall Fiction). Within TikTok’s top BookTok hashtags, the #translatedfiction hashtag now appears in its top hashtag ratings and its usage has doubled since 2023.

Author Georgi Gospodinov with translator Angela Rodel after winning the International Booker Prize 2023

The 2024 shortlisted books

Green book cover of Not a River by Selva Almada showing an abstract line drawing.

Translated by Annie McDermott

Yellow book cover of Kairos by Jenny Erpenbeck with a black and white photo of a woman.

Translated by Michael Hofmann

Book cover of The Details by Ia Genberg with torn black and white photos of peoples faces.

Translated by Kira Josefsson