Organizers announced today that two Maaloufs had made the 13-strong “Finalists’ List” for the Man Booker International: Lebanese novelist Amin Maalouf and Australian David Malouf (of Lebanese-English descent). Unlike the plain-old Booker, the Booker International is not for a single work, but for a writer’s overall achievements in fiction.
The £60,000 prize is awarded on odd years to a living author who writes in English or whose work is “generally available” in translation.
Francophone Amin Maalouf, who has blogged about his love of words in French, Arabic, and other languages, has a number of strong works available in English translation: The Crusades through Arab Eyes, Leo Africanus, Samarkand, Balthasar’s Odyssey, and others.
The most recent work by Anglophone David Malouf—whose novels I have not read—was his 2009 novel, Ransom.
Arab-loving Spaniard Juan Goytisolo, who famously turned down a Ghaddafi literature award, also made the list.
The three previous winners of the MBI are Ismail Kadare, Chinua Achebe, and Alice Munro. There is also an award for translation: If applicable, the MBI winner may choose a translator of his or her work into English to receive an additional prize of £15,000. Interesting, the idea of the author—rather than judges—choosing a favored translator.
The winner will be announced at the Sydney Writers’ Festival on May 18.
More about Amin Maalouf:
Samarkand on Reza Aslan’s list of his 5 Favorite Books
Judging chair Rick Gekoski in The Guardian: The damnable task of being a Man Booker International prize judge. Interestingly, he writes: “I think that “most deserving of recognition” is a better criterion than “best”, and its slipperiness is animating.”
Soon after the news release about the MBI finalists came out, a second news release arrived, stating that John le Carré asked to be withdrawn from the list.
John le Carré: “I am enormously flattered to be named as a finalist of 2011 Man Booker International Prize. However I do not compete for literary prizes and have therefore asked for my name to be withdrawn.”
Rick Gekoski: “John le Carré’s name will, of course, remain on the list. We are disappointed that he wants to withdraw from further consideration because we are great admirers of his work.”