The Man Booker International Prize

Two Harvill Secker titles have made it on to this year's Man Booker International Prize longlist, which was announced today (March 12), following on from fellow Vintage author David Grossman and translator Jessica Cohen's 2017 win for A Horse Walks Into a Bar.

Gabriela Ybarra's The Dinner Guest, translated from Spanish by Natasha Wimmer and Laurent Binet's The 7th Function of Language, translated from French by Sam Taylor are included on the 13-strong list, which also includes author Han Kang and translator Deborah Smith, winners of 2016's 'evolved' prize, with Deborah Smith a judge of last year's Harvill Secker Young Translator's Prize.

The Dinner Guest

In 1977, three terrorists broke into Gabriela Ybarra’s grandfather’s home, and pointed a gun at him in the shower. This was the last time his family saw him alive, and his kidnapping played out in the press, culminating in his murder.

Gabriela first heard the story when she was eight, but it was only after her mother’s death, years later, that she felt the need to go deeper and discover more about her family’s past.

The Dinner Guest is a novel, with the feel of documentary non-fiction. It connects two life-changing events – the very public death of Ybarra’s grandfather, and the more private pain as her mother dies from cancer and Gabriela cares for her. Devastating yet luminous, the book is an investigation, marking the arrival of a talented new voice in international fiction.

The 7th Function of Language

Roland Barthes is knocked down in a Paris street by a laundry van. It’s February 1980 and he has just come from lunch with Francois Mitterrand. Barthes dies soon afterwards. History tells us it was an accident.

But what if it were an assassination? What if Barthes was carrying a document of unbelievable, global importance? A document explaining the seventh function of language – an idea so powerful it gives whoever masters it the ability to convince anyone, in any situation, to do anything.

Police Captain Jacques Bayard and his reluctant accomplice Simon Herzog set off on a chase that takes them from the corridors of power to backstreet saunas and midnight meetings. What they discover is a worldwide conspiracy involving the President, murderous Bulgarians and a secret international debating society.

The prize, established in 2005, originally rewarded an author for a body of work originally written in any language as long as it was widely available in English. From 2016, the prize became a translation prize, awarded annually for a single work of fiction, translated into English and published in the UK. Underlining the importance of translation, the £50,000 prize is divided equally between the author and the translator.

This year's judges are Lisa Appignanesi, Michael Hoffman, Helen Oyeyemi, Hari Kunzru and Tim Martin, with the shortlist being announced on 12 April. 

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