Argentine author Selva Almada shortlisted for International Booker Prize

Her novel “Not a River” is among the six finalists for UK’s prestigious literary award

Argentine author Selva Almada’s novel Not a River has been named to the International Booker Prize’s short list, it was revealed on Monday. Almada will stand against five other finalists from Brazil, Germany, the Netherlands, South Korea, and Sweden.

The International Booker Prize is awarded annually to a work of world fiction that has been translated into English and published in the UK and/or Ireland.

The winner will receive a prize of 50,000 pounds, divided equally between the author and the translator (or among the translators). An additional 5,000 GB£ will be awarded to each finalist on the shortlist.

The last Argentine novel to make the International Booker shortlist was Gabriela Cabezón Cámara’s The Adventures of China Iron, a feminist take on the 19th-century Argentine poem The Gaucho Martín Fierro by Jose Hernández.

Almada’s novel — the last book in a “trilogy of males” that includes The Land that Lays Waste and Brickmaker — is set in rural Argentina and tells the story of two men who go on a fishing trip with the teenage son of a deceased friend. Through conversations, dancing, and cooking, the characters reckon with their ghosts past and present.

Not A River moves like water, in currents of dream and overlaps of time, which shape the stories and memories of its protagonists,” wrote a jury composed of writer and broadcaster Eleanor Wachtel, award-winning poet Natalie Diaz, Booker Prize shortlist nominee Romesh Gunesekera, ground-breaking visual artist William Kentridge, and acclaimed writer, editor, and translator Aaron Robertson.

“Alongside the story of these grief-marred characters, the author offers those of the women of the town — and what luck to root for or mourn them,” the jury’s statement continued.  

Not a River was published in English by Charco Press, a UK-based publishing house that focuses on contemporary Latin American literature and has translated Almada’s previous work.

This is the fourth Booker nomination for Charco Press in six years and the publishing house’s third title to land on the short list. All of Charco’s Booker Award nominees are female writers. They include Ariana Harwicz (Die, My Love, 2018), Gabriela Cabezón Cámara (The Adventures of China Iron, 2020), and Claudia Piñeiro (Elena Knows, 2022).

In its announcement, the UK-based publishing company noted that each of its Booker-nominated translations was made possible thanks to the support of Programa Sur — a Foreign Ministry grants program designed to promote Argentine literature in foreign markets. 

The Milei administration is expected to cut the program’s annual budget by 90% from  US$300,000 to US$30,000, which would bring the number of translations down from 130 to approximately 10. 

The complete short list of the International Booker Prize is listed below:

  • Not a River by Selva Almada, translated from Spanish by Annie McDermott 
  • Kairos by Jenny Erpenbeck, translated from German by Michael Hofmann 
  • The Details by Ia Genberg, translated from Swedish by Kira Josefsson 
  • Mater 2-10 by Hwang Sok-yong, translated from Korean by Sora Kim-Russell and Youngjae Josephine Bae 
  • What I’d Rather Not Think About by Jente Posthuma, translated from Dutch by Sarah Timmer Harvey 
  • Crooked Plow by Itamar Vieira Junior, translated from Portuguese by Johnny Lorenz 


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