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The International Booker Prize 2023

The International Booker Prize 2023 Longlist

Embark on a thrilling literary journey with the International Booker Prize 2023 longlist.

This year's selection is a vibrant mix of works from Africa, Asia, Europe, and Latin America, translated into English for the first time from 11 different languages. 

The judges, led by the renowned French-Moroccan novelist Leïla Slimani, are tasked with selecting the best work of international fiction. This work must be translated into English and published in the UK or Ireland between May 1, 2022, and April 30, 2023. The stakes are high, and the anticipation for the shortlist announcement on April 18th is palpable.

The winning book will be crowned at a grand ceremony at London's Sky Garden on May 23rd, 2023. 

This year's Booker Prize longlist comprises a diverse and eclectic collection of 13 works of fiction, authored by both emerging and established writers. These works promise to offer nuanced perspectives on the complexities of the human condition and to push the boundaries of the novel form. 

Please note that not all titles listed are available through Wordsworth as of yet.

The Booker Prize Long List 2023

1. Ninth Building by Zou Jingzhi
2. A System So Magnificent It Is Blinding by Amanda Svensson
3. Still Born by Guadalupe Nettel
4. Pyre by Perumal Murugan
5. While We Were Dreaming by Clemens Meyer
6. The Birthday Party by Laurent Mauvignier
7. Jimi Hendrix Live in Lviv by Andrey Kurkov
8. Is Mother Dead by Vigdis Hjorth
9. Standing Heavy by GauZ'
10. Time Shelter by Georgi Gospodinov
11. The Gospel According to the New World by Maryse Condé
12. Whale by Cheon Myeong-kwan
13. Boulder by Eva Baltasar

1. Ninth Building by Zou Jingzhi - Translated by Jeremy Tiang

Ninth Building

Immerse yourself in the captivating world of Ninth Building, a stunning collection of vignettes based on Zou Jingzhi's personal experiences growing up during the tumultuous Cultural Revolution.

Through Zou's powerful and poetic writing, you'll discover an often overlooked side of the era - the boredom and despair young people faced, and the dark humour that helped them cope.

Zou Jingzhi is a highly respected author in China, renowned for his fiction, poetry, essays, screenplays, and plays. He's a founding member of the Chinese theatre collective Longmashe, and his works have been performed and well-received domestically and internationally. 

As a screenwriter, he's collaborated with Zhang Yimou and Wong Kar Wai on award-winning films, while his poems and essays have been widely influential and reprinted multiple times.

2. A System So Magnificent It Is Blinding by Amanda Svensson - Translated by Nichola Smalley

A System So Magnificent It Is Blinding

Amanda Sofia Svensson is a Swedish author who grew up in Malmö and reached the final of Lilla Augustpriset at the age of seventeen.

Amanda Svensson's novel, "A System So Magnificent It Is Blinding," follows the lives of triplets born to a neurotic Swedish family that eventually splits due to divorce. 

By 2016, the triplets' lives have taken drastically different paths, with Sebastian working as a scientist in London, Clara living on Easter Island with a doomsday cult, and Matilda struggling with stepmotherhood in Berlin while avoiding the colour blue. 

When their father disappears and their mother makes a shocking announcement, the siblings must come together to heal old wounds and confess secrets. 

The chaotic family saga is filled with crackbrained supporting characters, literary Easter eggs, and a long-kept family secret that jolts the narrative. Although the siblings' motivations and misadventures become increasingly opaque over the 500-plus pages, Svensson's nitid descriptions and literary drive-by shootings make the long, strange trip worth it. 

At the heart of the novel lies the perennial query of whether our lives are random intersections of space and time or part of a grand master plan. 

3. Still Born by Guadalupe Nettel - Translated by Rosalind Harvey

Still Born

Guadalupe Nettel is a rising star in contemporary Latin American literature. Born in Mexico City, she spent part of her childhood in the south of France, where she developed a love for literature that would shape her life's work.

Nettel's experiences with physical disabilities and bullying gave her a unique perspective on the complexities of human emotion and relationships, which she masterfully weaves into her writing.

Her latest novel, Still Born, is a powerful exploration of motherhood, friendship, and the power of community. It tells the story of Alina and Laura, two independent women in their mid-thirties who have built their lives around careers instead of families. 

But when Alina becomes pregnant and gives birth to a healthy baby girl, their friendship is put to the test as they navigate the complexities of maternal ambivalence and the needs of those who depend on them.

Nettel's prose is both gripping and insightful, carefully dissecting the contradictions that make up the lived experiences of women. With Still Born, she proves herself to be a true master of her craft and a writer to watch in the years to come.

4. Pyre by Perumal Murugan - Translated by Aniruddhan Vasudevan


Perumal Murugan is a Tamil writer whose novel "Pyre" tells the story of Saroja and Kumaresan, two young lovers who marry secretly in inter-caste marriage. 

They hope to keep their union a secret, knowing that it will be frowned upon by their village elders. However, suspicions soon arise, and their love story is met with chilling intolerance and savagery from the villagers.

The novel explores themes of love, caste discrimination, and the devastating consequences of societal norms and traditions. 

Set in the rural landscape of western Tamil Nadu, Murugan's writing paints a vivid picture of the conflicts between people, the land, and their beliefs. The story is a heart-rending and raw portrayal of innocent love caught in the grip of oppressive societal norms and the violence that can result.

Murugan's writing is deeply rooted in the geography, folklore, and customs of his homeland, but his themes and characters are universal. 

He has been recognized for his contribution to Tamil literature, with awards and accolades for his poetry, essays, novels, and collections of short stories. "Pyre" is a haunting and thought-provoking novel that will stay with readers long after they turn the final page.

5. While We Were Dreaming by Clemens Meyer - Translated by Katy Derbyshire

While We Were Dreaming

Clemens Meyer is a highly acclaimed German novelist known for his vivid and poetic writing style. Born in 1977 in Halle and currently living in Leipzig, he worked various jobs before finding himself as a published author.

Meyer's debut novel, While We Were Dreaming, is an intense and emotional portrayal of youth, hope, and despair, capturing the raw essence of a generation caught in between two worlds in the aftermath of the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989. 

The book follows the lives of four 13-year-old boys from Leipzig as they navigate the uncertainty and chaos of reunification. Rico, Mark, Paul, and Daniel dream of escaping their mundane existence in the brewery quarter, yearning for a better life beyond the horizon. 

Each night, they roam the streets, seeking excitement and meaning, drinking, stealing cars, and fighting their fears, their parents, and the future.

Meyer's writing is praised for its honesty, authenticity, and unflinching portrayal of contemporary society. While We Were Dreaming is a moving coming-of-age story that explores the complexities of growing up in a rapidly changing society, a testament to the power of resilience and the human spirit.

6. The Birthday Party by Laurent Mauvignier - Translated by Daniel Levin Becker

The Birthday Party

French writer Laurent Mauvignier's latest novel, The Birthday Party, is a riveting French thriller that sustains an almost unbearable tension as villagers in rural France stumble into a bloodbath.

The novel deals wholly with fictitious events in the present day, but its remorseless narrative logic has readers on the edge of their seats, as we watch its ensemble cast stumble into catastrophe. 

The plot kicks in four hundred pages before the end, and by that time, we've already tuned in to the novel's demanding style, which flits between each character's experience in snaking paragraphs light on full stops. 

Mauvignier's ability to keep the shocks coming, his knack for renewing a cliche, and his talent for managing dynamic action as well as split-second psychological shifts culminate in an extravagantly choreographed set-piece blow-out of nigh-on unbearable jeopardy. 

The macabre twist on the marriage-portrait novel ultimately invites prudence and humility on the thorny question of how much we can ever know about those closest to us.

7. Jimi Hendrix Live in Lviv by Andrey Kurkov - Translated by Reuben Woolley

Jimi Hendrix Live in Lviv

Ukrainian writer, Andrey Kurkov showcases his signature brand of dark humour and vodka-fueled magic realism in his new book: Jimi Hendrix Live in Lviv. 

Don't miss out on this adventure captivating the thrilling ride through one of the world's most fascinating cities, post-Soviet Ukraine. Organised crime has replaced Soviet absurdities, and the line between reality and fantasy is blurred.

Despite being far from the sea, the air smells of salt, and seagulls circle the city, signalling that something out of the ordinary is happening.

A group of peculiar individuals gathers at Lychakiv Cemetery, including an ex-KGB officer and a former hippy he once spied on. Together, they uncover a mystery that leads Captain Ryabtsev and Alik Olisevych on a wild chase to reveal the source of these strange happenings.

In the meantime, Taras, a cab driver who ferries kidney stone patients over Lviv's cobblestone streets in his old Opel Vectra, is courting Darka, a woman who works nights at a Bureau de Change despite being allergic to money.

Little do they know that their fate is intertwined with that of two elderly men, determined to save their city from a looming threat.

8. Is Mother Dead by Vigdis Hjorth - Translated by Charlotte Barslund

Is Mother Dead

Vigdis Hjorth, a Norwegian novelist born on July 19, 1959, has recently released a gripping novel titled "To Mother is to Murder, or Close Enough". Johanna, the recently widowed protagonist, finds herself back in Oslo after a long absence, preparing for a retrospective of her art. 

The subject of her work is motherhood, and her controversial paintings have created a dramatic rift between parent and child. As she confronts the aftermath of her mother's disapproval, Johanna becomes increasingly paranoid about her mother's presence. 

In a twist of events, Johanna begins stalking her mother's house, and her mother begins stalking Johanna's thoughts. 

Hjorth has drawn inspiration from her own experiences as a mother and artist to explore the complex and often fraught relationship between mothers and daughters. This intense and suspenseful novel has been praised by readers and critics alike, cementing Hjorth's position as a celebrated voice in Norwegian literature.

9. Standing Heavy by GauZ' - Translated by Frank Wynne

Standing Heavy

Gauz, the pseudonym of Patrick Armand-Gbaka Brede, is a multi-talented artist, photographer, writer, and editor hailing from Abidjan, Ivory Coast. 

He is the recipient of the prestigious "le Prix des libraires" Gibert Joseph for his debut novel, Debout-Payé, which was published in 2014 by "Le Nouvel Attila."

Standing Heavy, Gauz's latest novel, is a captivating and timely work that explores the lives of undocumented workers in Paris against the backdrop of the city's ever-changing landscape of immigration policy. 

The story revolves around Ferdinand, who arrives in Paris in the 1960s with big dreams, and Ossiri and Kassoum, two generations of Ivoirians who navigate the Golden Age of immigration in the 1990s.

As they struggle to make ends meet and work as security guards at a flour mill, Gauz deftly weaves in themes of colonial legacies, capitalist consumption, and political upheaval, making Standing Heavy a sharply satirical, poignant, and unforgettable read. 

The all-seeing eyes of a security guard at a Sephora on the Champs-Élysées bear witness to everything in this gripping and unparalleled account of the undocumented worker's experience in modern-day Paris.

10. Time Shelter by Georgi Gospodinov - Translated by Angela Rodel

Time Shelter: Winner of the Premio Strega Europeo

Georgi Gospodinov is a Bulgarian writer known for his complex narratives exploring Eastern-European past and present-day anxieties. His work has been translated into 25 languages and has won numerous international awards. His writing style blends poetry, philosophy, humour, and self-irony. Notably, his novel "The Physics of Sorrow" won national awards and has been translated into multiple languages. 

Georgi Gospodinov's recent novel, "Time Shelter," is a masterful exploration of time and its passing, written in a poetic and unpredictable style. 

The novel features an enigmatic narrator who meets a man named Gaustine, a "vagrant in time" who has distanced his life from contemporary reality by reading old news, wearing tattered old clothes, and haunting the lost avenues of the twentieth century. 

In Zurich, Gaustine has opened the first "clinic for the past," an institution that offers an inspired treatment for Alzheimer's sufferers: each floor reproduces a different decade of the past, allowing patients to immerse themselves in their memories. 

The novel is a powerful and brilliant work, clear-sighted and foreboding, with a second-act dystopian twist. Time Shelter takes the reader on a journey through a world that is clamouring for the past before it forgets.

11. The Gospel According to the New World by Maryse Condé - Translated by Richard Philcox

The Gospel According to the New World

Hailing from Guadeloupe, a French overseas department and region, Maryse Condé is a celebrated novelist, critic, and playwright renowned for her work, Ségou. She delves into the themes of slavery and colonialism in the Caribbean, offering readers a unique perspective on the African diaspora.

In her latest work The Gospel According to the New World, she takes us on a biblically inspired journey set in modern times. 

On a serene Easter Sunday, Madame Ballandra's life changes when she discovers a beautiful newborn baby named Pascal in her garden shed. But the question on everyone's mind is: where did he come from? 

As Pascal grows up, rumours begin to circulate that he is the child of God due to his miraculous abilities, leading him to embark on a journey to uncover his true origins and understand his mission in life. 

Will he be able to change the fate of humanity and reveal the truth about his divine heritage? Maryse Conde's latest novel is a powerful and captivating story that explores the themes of identity, faith, and love, reminding us that solidarity and empathy are the greatest weapons we have against the world's injustices.

12. Whale by Cheon Myeong-kwan - Translated by Chi-Young Kim


Myeong-kwan Cheon, the award-winning South Korean novelist and screenwriter, has done it again with his modern masterpiece, Whale. A sweeping, multi-generational tale that blends fable, farce, and fantasy, this book is a must-read for fans of One Hundred Years of Solitude.

Cheon's wild world is set in a remote village in South Korea and follows the lives of its linked characters. 

From Geumbok, who has been chasing an indescribable thrill ever since she first saw a whale crest in the ocean, to her mute daughter, Chunhui, who communicates with elephants, and a one-eyed woman who controls honeybees with a whistle, this book is full of surprises and wicked humour.

In Whale, a woman sells her daughter to a passing beekeeper for two jars of honey, and a baby weighing fifteen pounds is born in the depths of winter, but named “Girl of Spring”. A storm brings down the roof of a ramshackle restaurant to reveal a hidden fortune. T

This book is an adventure-satire of epic proportions, by one of international literature's most original voices.

Translated into eight languages by literary translator and editor, Chi-Young Kim, who received the Man Asian Literary Prize for her work on Please Look After Mom by Kyung-sook Shin, Whale is a masterpiece of modern fiction that is sure to captivate readers.

13. Boulder by Eva Baltasar - Translated by Julia Sanches


Eva Baltasar is a Spanish poet and writer who has won several awards for her ten books of poetry. She holds a bachelor's degree in Pedagogy (the approach to teaching) from the University of Barcelona.

Her debut novel, "Permafrost," won the 2018 Catalan Booksellers Award and has been translated into six languages.

Boulder's story is a tale of two hearts entwined, yet torn apart by the divisive issue of parenthood. It's a stark reminder that the pursuit of happiness is not always straightforward, and choices can have far-reaching consequences.

As a former cook on a merchant ship, Boulder was used to living life on her own terms. That is until she met Samsa, who nicknamed her Boulder, comparing her to the solitary rocks in Patagonia left over after creation. Their connection was instantaneous, and their love was intense, but their ideologies about life could not have been more different.

When Samsa decides she wants a child, Boulder's world is turned upside down. Her belief that "the destination always kills the journey" challenges the mainstream narrative of what it means to settle down and have children.

Despite the weighty subject matter, there's a lightness to the story that keeps it engaging. Boulder's passion for Samsa is feverish, and their love is described in prose that is both poetic and evocative. 

In the end, Boulder's story is one of self-discovery and the struggle to reconcile her desire for freedom with her love for Samsa.

Expand your mind with the International Booker List

The 2022 winner was the phenomenal book by Shehan Karunatilaka titled “The Seven Moons of Malli Almeida”  

The International Booker Prize 2023 longlist promises to be even more fascinating reads for literature lovers.

By exploring the works on this list, you can broaden your literary horizons and enhance your understanding of the human experience and gain insight into different perspectives and cultures.

If you missed previous years of the Booker lists, it's never too late to explore the rich and diverse selection of works showcased by the Booker Awards. 

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