The shortlist has been announced! It features work from six countries, translated from six languages, and ‘interweaves the intimate and political in radically original ways’

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, sponsored by Maison Valentino, 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 and presented by Jack Edwards, from 9:30pm BST. 

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. 

About the shortlist:

  • 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 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 books published by Scribe UK. Indies have won the prize six times out of eight since 2016

The Shortlist

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

The Longlist

The 2024 judges

Eleanor Wachtel, Chair of the International Booker Prize 2024 judges, comments:

‘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 shows us lives lived against the backdrop of history or, more precisely, interweaves 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 Jenny Erpenbeck’s intense, rich drama, Kairos, 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.

Novels carry us to places where we might never set foot and connect us with new sensations and memories

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

The six books cast a forensic eye on divided families and divided societies, revisiting pasts both recent and distant to help make sense of the present

About the judges

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.

Eleanor Wachtel

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.

Natalie Diaz

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.

Romesh Gunesekera

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.

William Kentridge

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.

Aaron Robertson

Who is reading translated fiction?

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.

Young readers of translated fiction

The history of the International Booker Prize

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.


 Ismail Kadare