The Asian authors longlisted for the 2020 International Booker Prize

The Asian authors longlisted for the 2020 International Booker Prize

27 February 2020

Priyanka Mogul, Literature Programme Manager

The 13 novels longlisted for the prestigious International Booker Prize 2020 were revealed today (27 February), celebrating the finest translated fiction from around the world. 

The annual International Booker Prize is awarded for a single book (novels and short story collections) that has been translated into English and published in the UK or Ireland, with the aim to encourage people to read more fiction from around the world – as well as promote the work that translators do in this area.

Asia House takes a look at the two books from Asia have been longlisted for the prestigious literary award this year. 

The Enlightenment of The Greengage Tree
Author: Shokoofeh Azar

Translator: Anonymous

Original language: Farsi
Country: Iran 
Publisher: Europa Editions

From the pen of one of Iran’s rising literary stars, The Enlightenment of the Greengage Tree is a family story about the unbreakable connection between the living and the dead.

‘I have never read such a voice before. It is playful, poetic and deeply melancholy at the same time. Azar writes about the blunt force or Iranian history with the lightness of a feather’s touch. Transcendental, brilliant and beautiful.’ — Alice Pung, author of Laurinda

‘If ever there was a book that needs to be read more than once, this is it.’ — ArtsHub

‘[Azar’s] book is a great journey. It moves places and it moves us as readers, in an emotional and intellectual sense.’ — Robert Wood, The Los Angeles Review of Books

Set in Iran in the decade following the 1979 Islamic Revolution, this moving, richly imagined novel is narrated by the ghost of Bahar, a thirteen-year-old girl, whose family is compelled to flee their home in Tehran for a new life in a small village, hoping in this way to preserve both their intellectual freedom and their lives. But they soon find themselves caught up in the post-revolutionary chaos that sweeps across their ancient land and its people. Bahar’s mother, after a tragic loss, will embark on a long, eventful journey in search of meaning in a world swept up in the post-revolutionary madness.

The Enlightenment of the Greengage Tree speaks of the power of imagination when confronted with cruelty, and of our human need to make sense of trauma through the ritual of storytelling itself. Through her unforgettable characters, Azar weaves a timely and timeless story that juxtaposes the beauty of an ancient, vibrant culture with the brutality of an oppressive political regime.

Find out more and buy the book here


The Memory Police
Author: Yoko Ogawa
Translator: Stephen Snyder

Original language: Japanese
Country: Japan
Publisher: Harvill Secker

A compelling speculative mystery by one of Japan’s greatest writers.

‘A masterpiece’ — Guardian

‘One of Japan’s most acclaimed authors explores truth, state surveillance and individual autonomy. Echoes 1984, Fahrenheit 451, and 100 Years of Solitude, but it has a voice and power all its own’ — Time Magazine

Hat, ribbon, bird, rose. To the people on the island, a disappeared thing no longer has any meaning. It can be burned in the garden, thrown in the river or handed over to the Memory Police. Soon enough, the island forgets it ever existed.

When a young novelist discovers that her editor is in danger of being taken away by the Memory Police, she desperately wants to save him. For some reason, he doesn’t forget, and it’s becoming increasingly difficult for him to hide his memories. Who knows what will vanish next?

The Memory Police is a beautiful, haunting and provocative fable about the power of memory and the trauma of loss, from one of Japan’s greatest writers.

Find out more and buy the book here