Man Booker International Taps Great Leap Forward Novel

By Tom Lee, March 10, 2016

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The longlist for the Man Booker International Prize was announced on March 9, with outspoken author Yan Lianke holding up the Chinese side with his most recent release.

The Four Books consists of a quartet of fictitious texts that discuss aspects of the Great Leap Forward, a period in Chinese history when millions of people died during an attempt to reorganize the country through industrialization and collectivism. Its title is a play on the famed Four Books of Confucianism, studied by Chinese schoolchildren for millennia.

He’s joined on the 13-strong longlist by two Nobel Prize winners, Japan’s Kenzaburō Ōe and Turkey’s Orhan Pamuk, as well as another two Asian writers: Korea’s Han Kang and Indonesia’s Eka Kurniawan. The ranks will be whittled down to a shortlist of six on April 14, with the eventual winner announced on May 16.

This will be the first Man Booker International Prize to be awarded since it merged with the Independent Foreign Fiction Prize. Designed to become Britain’s preeminent award for international literature, the new accolade highlights novels that have been translated into English but were originally written in another language.

Whichever book wins will net its author and translator a total of GBP50,000. The money will be divided equally so as to highlight the importance of fluent and accurate translation in the global publishing world.

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