Booker Prize and National Book Awards: Shortlisted Works at the Literatures and Languages Library

As the days get shorter and the autumnal chill slowly sets in on campus, it’s the perfect time to curl up with a book from the Literatures and Languages Library. Can’t decide on one? Luckily, fall is peak season for some national and international book awards. Two major prizes recently announced their shortlists, or the finalists in the running for the top place. The Booker Prize shortlist was announced in Mid-September and the finalists for the National Book Award were just announced on October 4th. And you can find many of the shortlisted titles at the Literatures and Languages Library!

The Booker Prize has been active since 1969 and is awarded annually to a work of fiction which the judges believe will be relevant well into the future. While the book must be written in English and published in the UK or Ireland, the authors may have any nationality and origin. This prize is announced in multiple rounds, with the longlist announced in the summer and shortlist announced in the fall. This year, the winner will be announced on October 17th.

In addition to the notoriety that comes with winning a major prize in literature, each author of a shortlisted work receives £2,500 and the author of the winning work is awarded £50,000.

The Booker Prize Shortlist consists of six works of fiction. This year’s list includes both the shortest work ever nominated as well as the oldest author to be considered for the prize. They are:

The Booker Foundation

Glory by NoViolet Bulawayo

Small Things Like These by Claire Keegan

Treacle Walker by Alan Garner

The Trees by Percival Everett

The Seven Moons of Maali Almeida by Shehan Karunatilaka

Oh William! by Elizabeth Strout

The National Book Awards have been around since 1950, when they were established to celebrate the best writing in the United States. There are currently five categories, which include Fiction, Nonfiction, Poetry, Translated Literature, and Young People’s Literature. For each category, ten books are selected for the longlist. This list is narrowed down to five Finalists, from which a winner is chosen. This year, the winners, who each receive $10,000 and a bronze sculpture, will be announced on November 16th.  

To be eligible for the Fiction, Nonfiction, Poetry, or Young People’s Literature Awards, the author must either be a U.S. citizen or have been approved by a petition process and their book must have been published by a U.S. publisher located in the United States. The Translated Literature Award does not require either the author or translator to hold U.S. citizenship and the original work does not need to be newly published, but the translated work must be in English and must have been published within the eligibility year.

The finalists for the Fiction, Poetry, and Translated Literature are listed here, but be sure to look at the winners for Nonfiction and Young People’s Literature as well!

Finalists for Fiction:

National Book Foundation

The Rabbit Hutch by Tess Gunty

The Haunting of Hajji Hotak and Other Stories by Jamil Jan Kochai

The Birdcatcher by Gayl Jones

All This Could Be Different by Sarah Thankam Mathews

The Town of Babylon by Alejandro Varela

Finalists for Poetry:

National Book Foundation

Look at This Blue by Allison Adelle Hedge Coke

Punks: New & Selected Poems by John Keene

Balladz by Sharon Olds

Best Barbarian by Roger Reeves

The Rupture Tense by Jenny Xie

Finalists for Translated Literature:

National Book Foundation

A New Name: Septology VI-VII by Jon Fosse, translated from the Norwegian by Damion Searls (click here for the original in Norwegian)

Kibogo by Scholastique Mukasonga, translated from the French by Mark Polizzotti (click here for the original in French)

Jawbone by Mónica Ojeda, translated from the Spanish by Sarah Booker (click here for the original in Spanish)

Seven Empty Houses by Samanta Schweblin, translated from Spanish by Megan McDowell (click here for the original in Spanish)

Scattered All Over the Earth by Yoko Tawada, translated from the Japanese by Margaret Mitsutani

Happy reading!

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And the Winner of the 2020 International Booker Prize is…

Congratulations to The Discomfort of Evening, the 2020 winner of the International Booker Prize!

The International Booker Prize is awarded annually to the best international novel that has been translated and published in English within the UK or Ireland. Past winners include Jokha Alharthi, Olga Tokarczuk, and David Grossman.

Written by Marieke Lucas Rijneveld and translated by Michele Hutchison, the novel follows the story of Jas, a member of a religious family, who one day wishes ill upon her brother. When tragedy strikes and her brother disappears on a ski trip, Jas descends into madness, imagining disturbing scenarios that threaten her family ties.

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The Discomfort of Evening, by Marieke Lucas Rijneveld. Click for further information on the author and title.

Rijneveld’s debut novel was originally published in Dutch and was translated by Hutchison, who captures the striking and moving story with incredible detail. In addition to The Discomfort of Evening, which won the Booker International Prize and the ANV Debutantenprijs–a Dutch prize awarded yearly to the best debut novel– Rijneveld won awards for their poetry, including the C. Buddingh’-prijs (C. Buddingh’ Prize, in English) for the best Dutch language debut poetry collection.


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The International Booker Prize Shortlist Has Been Announced!

Since 2004, the International Booker Prize has served as a complement to the Booker Prize. Celebrating translated international literature, the award committee selects a longlist, which is then narrowed to a shortlist. From the shortlist, a winner is selected. Last year, the winning book was Celestial Bodies, by Jokha Alharthi, translated from Arabic by Marilyn Booth. This year, the International Booker Prize shortlist features five authors, five different languages, and a vast variety of themes.

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The Enlightenment of the Greengage Tree, by Shokoofeh Azar. Click for catalog link.

The Enlightenment of the Greengage Tree, Shokoofeh Azar, trans. by Anonymous (Farsi)

Set in Iran, The Enlightenment of the Greengage Tree follows a family as they live through the fallout and chaos of the Islamic Revolution. Through magical realism and traditional Persian storytelling, Azar weaves a heartfelt tale of love and sorrow, life and death, and politics and religion.





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The Adventures of China Iron, by Gabriela Cabezón Cámara. Click for catalog link.

The Adventures of China Iron, Gabriela Cabezón Cámara, trans. by Iona Macintyre and Fiona Mackintosh (Spanish)

Cámara’s novel follows the journey of Mrs. China Iron as she travels across the Pampas (South American lowlands). Traveling by wagon, she finds a companion in Liz, who exposes her to the injustices of the world as they move through beautiful flora and fauna. Their adventures bring them to new cultures and peoples, languages, and, unfortunately, political strife. This postcolonial novel is a delightful romp through the Argentinian landscape, while also exposing the effects of British Colonial efforts.



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Tyll, by Daniel Kehlmann. Click for catalog link.

Tyll, Daniel Kehlmann, trans. by Ross Benjamin (German)

Tyll Ulenspiegel is a traditional German folktale, reimagined by Daniel Kehlmann in Tyll. Kehlmann’s novel follows the trickster as he runs across battlefields, goes on quests for royalty, witch-hunters, and nobility, and exposes the wisdom of fools and folly of kings. Placing the German legend in the context of the Thirty Years’ War, Tyll is humorous-yet-dramatic retelling that will certainly entertain readers.




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Hurricane Season, by Fernanda Melchor. Click for catalog link.

Hurricane Season, Fernanda Melchor, trans. by Sophie Hughes (Spanish)

Hurricane Season begins with the death of a local witch, who had been helping citizens of La Matosa, a rural Mexican village. The novel explores the events leading up to the woman’s death from multiple perspectives. Though it appears to be a typical mystery, the novel is so much more. Instead of wondering who killed the woman, the book focuses on the why. Brutal and beautiful, Hurricane Season is Melchor’s first novel to be translated into English.



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The Memory Police, by Yoko Ogawa. Click for catalog link.

The Memory Police, Yoko Ogawa, trans. by Stephen Snyder (Japanese)

Things disappear. People are forgetting. On an unnamed island, a group called the Memory Police make sure that anything that disappears is forgotten. Most islanders don’t remember the objects that disappear, but there remains a select few who live in fear of the Memory Police. Who fear what would happen if it was discovered that they can still remember forgotten things. When a young novelist learns that the Memory Police are after her editor, she hides him in her floorboards, risking both of their lives. Emotional and thought-provoking, The Memory Police is a stunning exploration of a police state.


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The Discomfort of Evening, by Marieke Lucas Rijnveld. Click for catalog link.

The Discomfort of Evening, Marieke Lucas Rijneveld, trans. By Michele Hutchinson (Dutch)

When Jas, daughter of a devout family, finds herself angry at her brother for leaving to go on a ski trip, she makes a devastating plea to God. When her brother never returns, the family is devastated. While they grieve their loss, Jas descends into darkness, imagining disturbing fantasies that threaten the very core of her family. Raw and moving, Rijneveld’s debut novel is striking and unforgettable.

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