International Booker Prize shortlist unveiled

Sherna Noah, PA Senior Entertainment Correspondent

Books on “crooked witches” to the “history of science” have been shortlisted for the International Booker Prize.

The prize awards the best fiction from around the world, translated into English.

Two-thirds of the authors shortlisted this year are published in English for the first time.

Topics in the six books also include homeless ghosts and cultural and personal memory.

International Booker Prize 2021
Author Mariana Enriques (left) and translator Megan McDowell (right), and book The Dangers Of Smoking In Bed which is shortlisted for this year’s award (Ariel Grinberg/Sebastian Escalona/International Booker Prize/PA)

Judges said the books are all “urgent, energetic and wildly original works of literature”.

“We have the genres of sci-fi and ghost stories being brilliantly subverted and repurposed,” Lucy Hughes-Hallett, chair of the judges, said.

“We have biographical essays opening out to become blazingly imaginative testaments to the strangeness of the universe or the cruelty of human injustice.

“We have a hallucinatory and terrifying vision of the madness of warfare. We have a meditative journey into a family’s history that becomes a profoundly moving story about the way time eventually bears us all away.”

International Booker Prize 2021
Author Eric Vuillard (left) and translator Mark Polizzotti (right), and book The War Of The Poor which is among the short list (Melania Avanzato/International Booker Prize/PA)

The £50,000 prize is split evenly between author and translator.

The 2021 International Booker Prize winner will be announced on June 2 during an online ceremony from Coventry UK City of Culture 2021.

Shortlist with author/translator and original language:

At Night All Blood Is Black
David Diop/Anna Moschovakis

The Dangers Of Smoking In Bed
Mariana Enriquez/Megan McDowell

When We Cease To Understand The World
Benjamin Labatut/Adrian Nathan West

The Employees
Olga Ravn/Martin Aitken

In Memory Of Memory
Maria Stepanova/Sasha Dugdale

The War Of The Poor
Eric Vuillard/Mark Polizzotti