Posted by: Lisa Hill | March 28, 2017

2017 Man Booker International Prize Longlist- Combined Shadow Jury reviews

Update 15/7/17

The winner was announced tonight: the shadow jury chose Compass, but the official jury chose A Horse Walks Into A Bar.  They’re both probably really good books!

Update 5/5/17

The Shadow Jury has announced its shortlist,  four titles in common with the official jury.

Compass by Mathias Énard (France), translated by Charlotte Mandell
The Unseen by Roy Jacobsen (Norway), translated by Don Bartlett
Fish Have No Feet by Jón Kalman Stefánsson (Iceland), translated by Philip Roughton
Bricks and Mortar by Clemens Meyer (Germany), translated by Katy Derbyshire
Judas by Amos Oz (Israel), translated by Nicholas de Lange
Fever Dream by Samanta Schweblin (Argentina), translated by Megan McDowell

Update 21/4/17 The Shortlist has been announced.  See below for links to all the shadow jury reviews.

  • Compass by Mathias Enard (France), translated by Charlotte Mandell,
  • A Horse Walks into a Bar by David Grossman (Israel), translated by Jessica Cohen
  • The Unseen by Roy Jacobsen (Norway), translated by Don Bartlett and Don Shaw
  • Mirror, Shoulder, Signal by Dorthe Nors (Denmark), translated by Misha Hoekstra
  • Fever Dream by Samanta Schweblin (Argentina), translated byMegan McDowell
  • Judas by Amos Oz (Israel), translated byNicholas de Lange


Stu Allen, chair of the The Man Booker International Prize Shadow Jury, has suffered a sad bereavement- his mother has just unexpectedly died – so the other members of the Shadow Jury have stepped up to help.  As a former Shadow Jury member and a supporter of Stu’s work in promoting translated fiction to the world, I’m going to help too, by harvesting the Shadow Jury’s reviews as they are published on the jury’s respective blogs, gathering the reviews together in one place for easy reference.

If you want to send condolences to Stu, this is the link.

Shadow Jury members, please alert me to any reviews that I might have missed.

 Combined reviews

The longlist names the author, nationality, the translator, the title and the original imprint.   You can follow the links on the title to a summary at the MBIP website.

Shortlisted titles are listed first, with details in bold.

Mathias Enard (France), Charlotte Mandell, Compass (Fitzcarraldo Editions)

David Grossman (Israel), Jessica Cohen, A Horse Walks Into a Bar (Jonathan Cape)

Roy Jacobsen (Norway), Don Bartlett, Don Shaw, The Unseen (Maclehose)

Dorthe Nors (Denmark), Misha Hoekstra, Mirror, Shoulder, Signal (Pushkin Press)

Amos Oz (Israel), Nicholas de Lange, Judas (Chatto & Windus)

Samanta Schweblin (Argentina), Megan McDowell, Fever Dream (Oneworld)


Wioletta Greg (Poland), Eliza Marciniak, Swallowing Mercury (Portobello Books)

Stefan Hertmans (Belgium), David McKay, War and Turpentine (Harvill Secker)

Ismail Kadare (Albania), John Hodgson, The Traitor’s Niche (Harvill Secker)

Jon Kalman Stefansson (Iceland), Phil Roughton, Fish Have No Feet (Maclehose)

Yan Lianke (China), Carlos Rojas, The Explosion Chronicles (Chatto & Windus)

Alain Mabanckou (France), Helen Stevenson, Black Moses (Serpent’s Tail)

Clemens Meyer (Germany), Katy Derbyshire, Bricks and Mortar (Fitzcarraldo Editions)

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The Shadow Jury

Stu Allen is returning to chair the second Man Booker International Prize shadow jury after hosting four shadow IFFP juries plus the first MBIP shadow award.  He blogs out of Winstonsdad’s Blog, home to 500-plus translated books in review.  He can be found on twitter (@stujallen), where he also started the successful translated fiction hashtag #TranslationThurs over six years ago.

Tony Malone blogs at Tony’s Reading List

Claire blogs at A Little Blog of Books

Tony Messenger blogs at Messengers Booker (and more)

Lori Feathers’ reviews can be found @LoriFeathers

Bellezza (Meredith Smith) blogs at Dolce Bellezza

David Hebblethwaite blogs at David’s Book World

Grant Rintoul blogs at 1streading

For more info about the Shadow Jury, visit Stu’s blog post about it.

PS Many, many thanks to Tony from Messenger’s Booker for keeping me up to speed with this by emailing me links to reviews so that I don’t miss any.


  1. Thank you so much Lisa, another way we can help out Stu.
    I am surprised at the amount of coverage we’ve had so quickly as when the list was announced the number of reviews were thin on the ground. A dedicated panel indeed. Now to find a shortlist and winner!!!


    • Yes, indeed, it’s a lot of reading to do in a short period of time.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Excellent, thanks for doing this, nice to have all the review references in one place easy to find.


    • You’re welcome, Claire. It drove me crazy when I was on the IFFP shadow jury and had to hunt around all over to see what other jury members had thought, when it was time to start making decisions. And for people not on the jury, it’s really interesting to see the different responses to the same book:)

      Liked by 1 person

      • Yes, I think you should make this a regular annual event, as a supporter of the shadow panel and of those of us deciding which of the longlist to read!


  3. I take my hat off to all the members of the jury for sheer dedication. This one page reference list is a great resource to those of us who want to read the list at some point


    • I agree. And some of those books are very long, it’s a lot of pressure to read them all to a deadline.


      • It’s so very kind of you to link up my reviews on your blog, thank you for taking the time to do that. I appreciate having one central place to go, which you and Tony Messenger have both given us. What a privilege to read with the jury panel, and to have an opportunity to share these books together.


      • Yes, but anything for literature! ;)


  4. […] has helpfully collated a list of reviews by the shadow panel, so you can compare and contrast our thoughts about the longlisted titles. Have you read any of the […]


  5. […] Click here for links to Combined Reviews from the Man Booker International Prize Shadow Jury. […]


  6. Thanks so much for also linking to my review of Enard’s Compass.


    • Hi Melissa, you’re welcome. *chuckle* It’s supposed to be just shadow jury reviews, but hey, I can do what I like here and I liked your review very much:)
      I’m sorry about getting your name wrong (I’ve corrected it now). I should be more careful when I’m multi-tasking… sometimes when the internet is slow I have two browsers open and I work on two things at once…

      Liked by 1 person

      • Thanks so much for including my review. That is so nice of you. And no worries with my name!


  7. I am doing my best to shadow the shadow jury!

    10 books reviewed so far – three to go.

    My reviews here


  8. I’ve finally finished all 13 just in time for the shortlist announcement – all reviews on link above

    There is a group of us reading over on Goodreads as well – for comments on each book.

    On the eve of the shortslisting, the collective verdict seems to be:

    Winner: A Horse Walks Into a Bar

    Definite shortlist: Bricks & Mortar; Judas; The Traitor’s Niche

    Perm 2 more from 5 of: War & Turpentine; Fish Have No Feet; Compass; The Unseen; Fever Dream

    Nos: Swallowing Mercury; Explosion Chronicles; Black Moses; Mirror. Shoulder, Signal


    • Hello Paul, thanks for coming back here with this, much appreciated.
      And thanks also for reminding me to follow @ManBookerPrize tonight!
      But I’m sorry to see from your discussion and the Shadow Jury’s reviews that The Explosion Chronicles isn’t popular. I have learned so much about Chinese life and history from his books, which I’ve really enjoyed. Ah well…


      • I am actually with you on Explosion Chronicles, it was very close to my personal shortlist and I actually preferred it to his Four Books from last year.

        But that wasn’t a universal opinion I am afraid. The rather hyberbolic style puts some off, and the relatively simple narrative development (Lianke himself somewhere described it as his most linear novel, unremittingly linear). To me that is a perfect style for describing the growth of modern China, but I think many found it too much. 100 pages too long was a common view. for some discussion.


        • I think that GR comment about satires not having enough character development is revealing: IMO satire is the only way an author can write anything significant in China at the moment, and if you want to learn about China (which I think we need to do) then learning to read between the lines in Chinese writing is part of that.
          But I do recognise that the style of writing is different and takes a bit of getting used to. I haven’t read heaps of Chinese novels, but I would say that I have come along way in being able to interpret them. (See The first novel I ever read was Three Sisters when Bi Feiyu won the Nobel and I now think my review was very naïve.


          • Good points. From the author himself:

            “Chinese novels generally have an excessively slow and convoluted narrative structure—to the point that it impacts their readability. Accordingly, I hope that the background rhythm of my novels will be powerful and propulsive, like a steam engine; and that they will have a simple narrative but rich content, with a clear structure but full of cultural significance. This is the sort of structure and narrative to which I aspired in writing The Explosion Chronicles.”


            Albeit I do feel his claim to have invented an “entirely new structure and narrative form”, “mythorealist” is a little ambitious.


            • Maybe it is a new form, in China? The only classical Chinese text I’ve ever read is Dream of the Red Chamber (and that was a children’s version) and of course I haven’t read anything that was published under Mao except for a bit of dissident stuff. I just don’t know much about Chinese Lit at all. I now have a VSI for Chinese Lit and I must get round to reading it soon.


  9. I’ve now reviewed all the books – here are two I think you’re missing:


  10. […] Traitor’s Niche has been widely reviewed, not least by the members of the MBIF Shadow Jury (see their combined reviews from here on this blog) but it didn’t make it into either their shortlist or the official one.  But I was always […]


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