The judges for the International Booker Prize 2024 have been announced, as submissions open
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.
Judging is in progress and new entries are not being accepted.
The winners’ prize purse is £50,000; £25,000 for the author and £25,000 for the translator (or divided equally between multiple translators). 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 (or divided equally between multiple translators).
The longlist of 12 or 13 books will be announced on 11 March 2024 and the shortlist of six books on April 9. The winning title will be announced at a ceremony on May 21.
‘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.’
Literature subverts, it questions the lines we draw between people and places, our expectations, revealing an interiority that can change everything— Eleanor Wachtel, Chair of the International Booker Prize 2024 judges
‘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.’
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
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.
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. Read more here.
The Booker Prizes exist to reward the finest in fiction. The symmetrical relationship between the Booker Prize and the International Booker Prize ensures that the Booker honours fiction on a global basis: world-class 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 the Man Booker International Prize. It was initially 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 of the Man Booker International Prize therefore include 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 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.
The Man Group continued to sponsor both prizes until 2019, when Crankstart became the funder, and the prizes reverted to their familiar ‘Booker’ names alone.
This prize aims to encourage more reading of quality fiction from all over the world, and has already had an impact on those statistics in the UK. Novels and collections of short stories are both eligible.