International Booker Prize: four South American authors among the finalists

The first selection of 13 books includes Argentine author Selva Almada’s Not a River

Argentine writer Selva Almada’s Not a River made it into the International Booker Prize’s longlist of 13 finalists, which was announced on Monday.  The selection includes books by South American authors from Brazil, Argentina, Peru, and Venezuela. 

“The list heralds a second ‘boom’ in Latin American fiction,” reads the official announcement on the Booker Prize website. 

“Our judges are far from alone in being impressed by the quality of writing coming from that continent. When asked last year why Ireland has the best writers, after four Irish authors appeared on the Booker Prize 2023 longlist, the eventual winner Paul Lynch said: ‘Can I let you into a secret? I think South America has the best writers.’”  

The International Booker Prize is awarded annually to a single work of fiction from anywhere in the world, translated into English and published in the UK and/or Ireland.

The prize consists of 50,000 pounds divided equally between the author and the translator (or divided equally between multiple translators). In addition, there is a prize of 5,000 pounds for each of the titles that enter the shortlist, which will be announced on April 9. 

The last Argentine author to make the International Booker shortlist was Gabriela Cabezón Cámara, with The Adventures of China Iron, a feminist take on the 19th-century traditional Argentine poem Martín Fierro.

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

You may also be interested in: Charco Press: A love of Latin American literature across the pond

Almada’s novel — the last book in her “trilogy of males” (with The Land that Lays Waste and Brickmakers) — is set in rural Argentina, and tells the story of two men who go on a fishing trip with the teenage son of a friend who passed away. Amid conversations, dancing, and cooking, the characters deal with their past and present ghosts.

Not A River moves like water, in currents of dream and overlaps of time which shape the stories and memories of its protagonists,” said the jury composed of writer and broadcaster Eleanor Wachtel, award-winning poet Natalie Diaz, Booker Prize-shortlisted novelist 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 complete long list of the 2024 International Booker Prize contenders is below: 

– Not a River by Selva Almada, translated by Annie McDermott  

– Simpatía by Rodrigo Blanco Calderon, translated by Noel Hernández González and Daniel Hahn  

– Kairos by Jenny Erpenbeck, translated by Michael Hofmann  

– The Details by Ia Genberg, translated by Kira Josefsson

White Nights by Urszula Honek, translated by Kate Webster  

– Mater 2-10 by Hwang Sok-yong, translated by Sora Kim-Russell and Youngjae Josephine Bae  

– A Dictator Calls by Ismail Kadare, translated by John Hodgson  

– The Silver Bone by Andrey Kurkov, translated by Boris Dralyuk

– What I’d Rather Not Think About by Jente Posthuma, translated by Sarah Timmer Harvey  

– Lost on Me by Veronica Raimo, translated by Leah Janeczko  

– The House on Via Gemito by Domenico Starnone, translated by Oonagh Stransky

– Crooked Plow by Itamar Vieira Junior, translated by Johnny Lorenz  

– Undiscovered by Gabriela Wiener, translated by Julia Sanches


All Right Reserved.  Buenos Aires Herald