The Man Booker International Prize 2015 Winner #MBI2015

Lydia Davis

Lydia Davis

Man Booker IntlToday the winner of The Man Booker International Prize was announced.

This prize recognises one writer for his or her achievement in fiction. It is awarded every two years to a writer whose work has been published in English or is generally available having been translated into English.

Unlike the Man Booker Prize for Fiction, there are no submissions from publishers, it is a decision left solely to the judging panel, who must consider a writer’s body of work and not just their latest novel.

The 2013 winner was short story writer and translator Lydia Davis (America).

The finalists for 2015, alongside a quote made by one of the judges were:

Alain Mabanckou (Republic of Congo) ‘His voice is vividly colloquial, mischievous and … outrageous’

Amitav Ghosh (India) ‘In Ghosh’s hands the contemporary historical novel is transformed’

César Aira (Argentina) ‘A performance on page’

Fanny Howe (US) ‘[her] care for words matches her care for characters’

Hoda Barakat (Lebanon) ‘The unrivalled bride of the Mediterranean

László Krasznahorkai (Hungary) ‘What strikes the reader above all are extraordinary sentences’

Marlene van Niekerk (South Africa) ‘The author of two immense masterpieces

Mia Couto (Mozambique) ‘His pages are studded with startling images’

Maryse Condé (Guadeloupe) ‘A monumental body of work that acts against forgetting’

Ibrahim al-Koni (Libya) ‘Reading al-Khoni is a transcendental experience’


The Guardian interviewed all 10 finalists in this excellent article, asking each of them:

  • to describe their work to someone unfamiliar with it
  • which of their books they’d recommend to a first time reader
  • whether as a writer,  they felt a distinction between local and international readers
  • who their literary heroes were
  • whether it was the duty of a novelist to engage with the political issues of the day
  • to share something new about themself

After reading this article, I could tell immediately that I would love to read the work of Guadeloupean author Maryse Condé. I have ordered a few of her books already. I recommend reading it if you are interested in knowing which of these authors might appeal to you.

One of the judges, New York Review Classics editorial director Edwin Frank had this to say:

“It would be pretentious to say we wanted to survey the world, but we wanted to be mindful of the wider world of literature. For me, I’ve learned all sorts of things about authors I’d never read especially in Arabic literature, which is still woefully underrepresented in English. And we have various writers from Africa, writing in very different languages and literary traditions.”

And so the winner of the Man Booker International Prize 2015 is…..

Winner 2015

31 thoughts on “The Man Booker International Prize 2015 Winner #MBI2015

    • I was eyeing that one up up last year, after reading a few interesting reviews and I also remember reading about his visit, I think it was the Edinburgh festival.

      No excuses now, I shall have to get hold of a copy! Loved his comments in The Gurdian interview, quite a sense of humour. I hadn’t seen anything about the prize either until about a week ago.


  1. Thank you for sharing this with us. I loved The Guardian’s article. Funny, but the author that appealed to me the most was Hoda Barakat but I did like the sound of Maryse Conde as well.

    Liked by 1 person

    • That’s why I like the longlists and thanks to the Guardian we get to know a little of the writer’s inspiration and thoughts and then of course the reviews of their books. So many little known, I wish they could do this every year!


  2. Pingback: Hungarian writer Krasznahorkai wins International Booker

  3. Pingback: László Krasznahorkai wins the 2015 Man Booker International Prize | Kinna Reads

  4. Hi Claire – Thank you for sharing this. So I am busted! I haven’t read any works by ANY of 10 writers who were finalists for this award. Do you think the Man Booker International Prize is a good guide for readers who want to read more globally? I have known of Maryse Conde for a while but when I first picked up a book by her, I wasn’t ready to read it, if you know what I mean. I found myself interested in reading Fanny Howe’s works. Marlene van Nieberk’s Agaat has been on my to-read list for some years. Laslo Krasznahorkai’s remarks about going some place to sit and wait to meet someone who has read his works makes me tempted to try it!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Ok, apologies in advance for a super, long response! I couldn’t help it. 🙂

      You’re in good company Leslie, Amitav Ghosh is the only writer on the list I have read and most of the others I had never heard of, only László Krasznahorkai because his novel was on the IFFP (International Foreign Fiction Prize) list last year and I follow a few bloggers who shadow that particular award, a prize that is for a novel written or translated into English in the last year.

      I think the judge above is so right, in that this sort of prize really does serve to widen our knowledge of what is available, but it is also true that often international writers are published by small presses and so get much, much less media and bookstore coverage, something that blogging reviewers have really helped to change.

      I would say this is just one of the sources for reading more globally, I always look to the longlist, as a winner isn’t always going to align with our own inclinations, my inclinations were more towards Maryse Condé this year, probably after so enjoying Jamaica Kincaid, not that they’re necessarily connected, more that they embrace another perspective and yet have also been influenced by colonial literature.

      In August, there is #WomenInTranslation Month which is an excellent source of world literature written by women (though not including those who write in English as their first language, who do tend to have a higher profile than those who are translated). You can follow the #WIT2015 hashtag on twitter and/or participate in the reading (even if its only one title), its great to tap into all those reviews and find out what’s already out there. Here’s the link to Meytal at Bibliobio – Life in Letters who is organising it.

      I also follow, as I mentioned the bloggers shadowing the #IFFP Prize as they all read globally and often participate in special reading events (I tend not to participate in these as I prefer to be completely free regarding my reading choices). I love to follow them, as they always introduce me to literature outside what is to be found in the traditional media.

      I’ve also recently discovered Kinna Reads which is an excellent resource for African Literature.

      Ultimately, I think we kind of know what we like, we just haven’t known in the past (at least I realise I didn’t) how to find it, due to the nature of publishing and publicity which tends to obscure much that isn’t mainstream Anglo-American, if I can be so general. So these are some of the sources I use to try and find out what’s been written from other cultures and what people thought of them. Goodreads is always good for that too.

      I hope that helps! You too are a great resource, I love your reading list and the titles, authors you are drawn towards, that’s one of the heys, find a few special people to follow and the gems are sure to follow.

      Liked by 1 person

      • A very GENEROUS response, Claire – thank you! In addition to following your blog you’ve provided some other guides I am not familiar with. Also, your points—about (a) international writers being published on small presses; and (b) that it isn’t always the WINNERS of the prestigious prizes whose works may speak to me—are well-taken. Thumbs-up—talk to you later!


  5. Thanks for sharing this, Claire. I read Krasznahorkai’s Satantango when it cropped up on the IFFP list a couple of years ago. It’s extraordinary, quite unlike anything else I’ve ever read. Some of the novel’s scenes still cut through to this day. Pretty intense stuff, though.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Thanks, Claire! I don’t pay enough attention to prizes in general, but this is more interesting than most because they’re nearly all authors I’ve never heard off. I shall enjoy looking into their work, and picking one or two to tell me about something new…

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks Valerie, it was such a great piece and given the low profile foreign langage authors generally have in the media, I couldn’t let this one pass us all by without some kind of acknowledgement and I’ll be reading a few of them for sure. It’s interesting too, to see who they themselves have been inspired by.


  7. whenever i feel like I have a good grasp on literature, I come here and realise that I need to put more effort into my reading diversity. It’s a great article though and also your post of course and I will see about getting my sticky mitts on some of these gems.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’d be really interested to see what you make of László Krasznahorkai’s Satantango SteJ. I think he fits right in to your collection and I’d be really interested in your perception of his use of language. Happy to have been able to bring a bit of diversity to what you see up there in Ol’ Blighty.


      • It’s on my list now and with your taste in books, I think I will be thoroughly intrigued by the plot and the language. Life is looking rosy with books at the moment.


  8. It’s an extraordinary honour even to be short-listed for this one. And two Kiwis have walked away with the big prize! As an aside, I found it intriguing, last year, to hear Eleanor Catton use the moment to argue that many New Zealand reviewers are, basically, bullies. The fact that she’d won the Man Booker with the very work they were running down, to me, seemed to underscore the point. I don’t know whether any of the other winners have similar experience in their own country, but Catton’s observation is consistent with my own experience in New Zealand.


  9. Pingback: Tales From The Heart, True Stories From My Childhood by Maryse Condé | Word by Word

  10. Pingback: Victoire: My Mother’s Mother by Maryse Condé tr. Richard Philcox | Word by Word

  11. Pingback: Agaat by Marlene Van Niekerk tr. Michiel Heyns | Word by Word

  12. Pingback: A Season in Rihata by Maryse Condé (Guadeloupe) tr. Richard Philcox #WITMonth – Word by Word

  13. Pingback: Reading Women in Translation #WITMonth – Word by Word

  14. Pingback: Crossing the Mangrove by Maryse Condé (1995) – Word by Word

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s