The winner of the inaugural Man Booker International Prize in 2005 was Ismail Kadaré.
The Judges List for the 2007 prize (which is awarded every second year) was announced at Massey College in Toronto on Thursday. The nominees are:
Chinua AchebeSeveral of my most deeply loved authors are on this list (Atwood, Carey, Lessing, Ondaatje, de Lillo, Achebe), along with others I greatly respect (McEwan, Banville, Rushdie, Munro), others I haven't read yet but hope to (Fuentes, Oz) ... and a couple I've never heard of (Michel Tournier and Harry Mulisch) but who no doubt thoroughly deserve to be there.
(Much more information on all the writers and their works and is available on the Man Booker International website and also on the Guardian website.)
My feelings on seeing the list are mixed ... while I'm always glad to see great writers given the recognition they deserve, I hate the crassness of this winner and loser approach. And does the world actually need this award? Those of us who truly love reading know who the greats are already ... and how do you compare one in any meaningful way with another? You can't put their works on a scale and weight them as if they were trout caught in a fishing competition!
The judges, Nadime Gordimer, Colm Toibin and Professor Elaine Showalter have their work cut out for them but I know that whatever choice they make I will be disappointed.
But if I were in their shoes (and allowing for the great gaps of ignorance in my reading) ... I'd have to choose either Carey or Atwood ...
(*pause for deep thought*)
Carey ... Carey it is ...
Stuart Kelly writing in the Scotsman ( found via Literary Saloon) sees the award as being one for "resting on laurels", he says:
Rather than being a truly international survey of the best in contemporary fiction writing, this shortlist positively reeks of smug complacency and petty parochialism. How widely did the judges actually read? Did they even consider Ngugi wa'Thiong'o, Bernardo Atxaga, Mo Yan, Jan Kjærstad, Viktor Pelevin, Elias Khoury? What about recent Nobel Prize winners - Orhan Pamuk, Elfriede Jelinek, Imre Kertész, José Saramago, Gao Xingjian?
Literature in translation is difficult to persuade people to try; and the International Man Booker did present a real opportunity to widen horizons and promote the underappreciated - an opportunity it singularly failed to seize this year. Worse, it seems to me that at this present historical moment, the need for us to understand other cultures, engage in dynamic dialogue with them and foster genuine international communication is more pressing than eve