Winner of The Man Booker International Prize will be announced today. Four Africans are up for the award.

MBI2015I like and applaud the open prize-awarding processes of international prizes such as the Neustadt, the Impac, and the Man Booker International. (I shan’t mention the ultra-secretive process of that award given by the folks up, up, up, there in northern hemisphere).

If a prize could have fun, this year’s Man Book International Prize wouldn’t want leave the playground for home. The prize’s list of ten finalists are all amazing writers and poets.  A year-long reading list — these writers have produced a ton of books – would continue to delight long after the last pages have been read!

The list of ten finalists includes:

  • four women
  • four Africans
  • 7 languages are represented on the list (2 Arabic; 1 Spanish; 2 French; 2 English; 1 Afrikaans; 1 Portuguese; 1 Hungarian)

man-book-prize 2015 Finalists

The finalists are:

  1.  César Aira – Argentine novelist, writes in Spanish. His novels, translated into English, include The Hare, Ghosts, How I Became a Nun and Dinner.
  2. Ibrahim al-Koni – Libyan Writer, writes in Arabic. Hs novels-in-translation include Bleeding in the Street; Gold Dust; Anubis: A Desert Novel; The Seven Veils of Seth.
  3. Hoda Barakat – Lebanese novelist, writes in Arabic.  Her novels in translation include The Stone of Laughter; The Tiller of Waters and Disciples of Passion.
  4. Maryse Condé – from Guadeloupe, writes in French.  Her novels in English include Heremakhonon; Segu; I, Tituba: Black Witch of Salem; Tree of Life.
  5. Mia Couto – Mozambican short story writer and novelist, writes in Portuguese. His books in English include Sleepwalking Land; Voices Made Night; The Last Flight of the Flamingo; The Tuner of Silences.
  6. Amitav Ghosh – Indian novelist, writes in English.  His novels include Sea of Poppies; The Calcutta Chromosome; River of Smoke.
  7. Fanny Howe – American poet, writes in English.  Her poetry collections include On the Ground; Selected Poems; Gone.
  8. László Krasznahorkai – Hungarian novelist, writes in Hungarian. His novels in translation include Satantango; The Melancholy of Resistance; Seiobo There Below.
  9. Alain Mabanckou – Congolese novelist, writes in French.  His novels in English include Broken Glass; Tomorrow I’ll Be Twenty; The Lights at Point-Noire, African Psycho.
  10. Marlene van Niekerk – South African writer, writes in Afrikaans.  Her novels in English include Agaat and Triomf

I repeat, to craft a reading project out of the works of these ten writers would be a thing of beauty. I’ve read Condé, al-Koni, Mabanckou, Aira and Couto. Krasznahorkai and van Niekerk are already on my wishlist. I know nothing of Fanny Howe and that surprises me, given her numerous collections of poetry.

So who are my favorites to win the 2015 Man Booker International Prize? With such a strong group of contenders, the judges can’t go wrong with whomever they choose. BUT. If they care at all for my views, here in this little corner of literary blogoshepre, the judges should pare down the list to:

  • Ibrahim al-Koni. OBVIOUSLY! He is one of the most prolific novelists living right now, writing in Arabic or whatever language. He is that excellent and more. He’s won numerous awards but let’s not hold that against him.
  • Mia Couto. These are the decades of Mia Couto. Last year, he won the Neustadt. It’s like the world has woken up to Couto, Stay woke!
  • Maryse Condé. Because in 1987, Maryse Condé entered my life with Segu, her historical fiction set in 19th Century Bambara Mali gave me life and then set alight the category of historical fiction. She’s due some major recognition.
  • Alain Mabanckou. It would be impossible to take the pulse of contemporary French and Francophone Literature without checking in on Alain Mabanckou. Impossible so why try?
  • László Krasznahorkai – Now I haven’t read a word of Krasznahorkai. But I’ve read other Hungary writers like Peter Nadas.  Plus, Krasznahorkai’s reputation of writing difficult novels makes him an instant favorite of mine. Go figure.

The judges should pick the winner from this shortlist of mine. Thank you.



  1. Always say the beauty is in the longlist, that’s the celebration and this one is great, stacked full of interesting writers and backlists. Great to read your recommendations, I’m starting out with Maryse Condé, she sounds amazing.


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