Posted by: Lisa Hill | April 2, 2020

Australian Shokoofeh Azar on the 2020 International Booker Prize shortlist!

From the press release:

The 2020 International Booker Prize Shortlist has been revealed. This year, the titles are translated from five languages and the shortlisted authors hail from six countries.

These books examine humanity’s need to understand the world through narrative, either through sharing our own stories, through understanding our histories and origins, or through processing trauma and grief.

Please note that while the publisher in the longlist is named Europa Editions, it was in fact first published by Wild Dingo Press here in Australia, and I reviewed it in 2017.

The 2020 International Booker Prize shortlist is:

  • The Enlightenment of The Greengage Tree by Shokoofeh Azar, translated anonymously. Europa Editions, see my review.
  • The Adventures of China Iron by Gabriela Cabezón Cámara, translated by Iona Macintyre and Fiona Mackintosh. Charco Press.
  • Tyll by Daniel Kehlmann, translated by Ross Benjamin. Quercus.
  • Hurricane Season by Fernanda Melchor, translated by Sophie Hughes. Fitzcarraldo Editions.
  • The Memory Police by Yoko Ogawa, translated by Stephen Snyder. Harvill Secker.
  • The Discomfort of Evening by Marieke Lucas Rijneveld, translated by Michele Hutchinson. Faber & Faber.

This is the first time an Australian author has been shortlisted for the Booker International.  Shokoofeh came here as a refugee from Iran and has made this country her home.  What an achievement to be shortlisted for this prestigious prize!

The contribution of both author and translator is given equal recognition, with the £50,000 prize split between them. Each shortlisted author and translator will receive £1,000, bringing the total value of the prize to £62,000.


  1. What wonderful news. I had a hope of reading this this year – and now I really will try to.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. How delightful and have not read as yet. Now is the time. Plenty of it.


  3. I am thrilled about this! Shokoofeh is such a lovely person and very brave. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if…


  4. So you read it in Australian. :)
    I wonder if they changed any of the words when they published it in British English?


    • Ha ha!
      It’s the same translator. For the Australian edition they used a nom-de-plume so that his/her identity wasn’t an issue (because, let’s face it, most translators get very little attention). But for the European edition they changed it to Anonymous, which draws attention to the fact that it’s dangerous for writers — and translators — in Iran if the work criticises the regime.
      The translation is not identifiably Australian or British English because our spelling is the same and so are our sentences structures. There are a few vocabulary differences such as ‘lollies’ instead of ‘sweets’ but most of the Aussie slang that people joke about wouldn’t apply in a book like this one (and a lot of it is never used by educated people anyway because it’s crass). American English is often noticeably different because of the spelling (e.g. theater/center instead of theatre/centre) and the structures e.g. they omit words in expressions such as ‘one thousand one’ instead of ‘one thousand and one’ and ‘July five’ instead of ‘July the fifth’. Sometimes it can be confusing e.g. they ‘wrote mother’ when we would say we ‘wrote to mother’: for us, their way of saying it means they wrote the word, not a letter.


      • I wondered about the anonymous translator, as my edition had a name. I didn’t realise it was a nom-de-plume. Thanks for clearing that up.


        • I was a bit confused too, but I got in touch with both the Australian and the European publisher and they clarified it for me…

          Liked by 1 person

  5. That’s wonderful news Lisa! I’d missed hearing about this, so thanks for the update.


  6. […] Australian Shokoofeh Azar on the 2020 International Booker Prize shortlist! […]


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