Jessica Cohen and David Grossman

A Horse Walks Into a Bar, written by David Grossman, translated by Jessica Cohen and published by Jonathan Cape, was announced as the winner of the 2017 Man Booker International Prize last night at a ceremony at the V&A. Celebrating the finest global fiction in translation, the prize sees both the author and translator winning £25,000 each. They have also received a further £1,000 each for being shortlisted.

The winner was selected from 126 books by a panel of five judges, chaired by Nick Barley and consisting of Daniel Hahn, an award-winning writer, editor and translator; Elif Shafak, a prize-winning novelist and one of the most widely read writers in Turkey; Chika Unigwe, author of four novels including On Black Sisters’ Street; and Helen Mort, a poet who has been shortlisted for the T.S. Eliot Prize and the Costa Prize, and has won aFoyle Young Poets of the Year Award five times.

Nick Barley, chair of the 2017 judging panel, commened:

‘David Grossman has attempted an ambitious high-wire act of a novel, and he’s pulled it off spectacularly. A Horse Walks into a Bar shines a spotlight on the effects of grief, without any hint of sentimentality. The central character is challenging and flawed, but completely compelling. We were bowled over by Grossman’s willingness to take emotional as well as stylistic risks: every sentence counts, every word matters in this supreme example of the writer’s craft.’

A Horse Walks Into a Bar
  • A Horse Walks into a Bar

  • WINNER OF THE INTERNATIONAL MAN BOOKER PRIZE 2017

    The setting is a comedy club in a small Israeli town. An audience that has come expecting an evening of amusement instead sees a comedian falling apart on stage; an act of disintegration, a man crumbling, as a matter of choice, before their eyes. They could get up and leave, or boo and whistle and drive him from the stage, if they were not so drawn to glimpse his personal hell. Dovaleh G, a veteran stand-up comic – charming, erratic, repellent – exposes a wound he has been living with for years: a fateful and gruesome choice he had to make between the two people who were dearest to him.

    A Horse Walks into a Bar is a shocking and breathtaking read. Betrayals between lovers, the treachery of friends, guilt demanding redress. Flaying alive both himself and the people watching him, Dovaleh G provokes both revulsion and empathy from an audience that doesn’t know whether to laugh or cry – and all this in the presence of a former childhood friend who is trying to understand why he’s been summoned to this performance.

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