The Booker Prize Shortlist 2024

The Booker Prize is a literary award scheme which started in 1969. Originally, the Prize was a way to highlight Commonwealth writers, but now spans literature from across the globe. The Booker Prize winner earns the winning author a sum of £50,000. Winning books, according to the Booker Website, will “not only speak to our current times, but also one that will endure and join the pantheon of great literature.”

The Shortlist was announced earlier this week and the winner will be announced on 21st May.

Now, let’s take a look at the nominees! (Synopses taken from the Booker Prize Website).

Mater 2-10

This book is by South Korean author, Hwang Sok-yong and translated by Sora Kim-Russell. According to the Booker website, Hwang Sok-yong is one of South Korea’s most revered authors and “was imprisoned for five years for travelling to North Korea to promote exchange between artists in the two Koreas.” He has been the recipient and nominee of several international book prizes.

An epic, multi-generational tale that threads together a century of Korean history. Centred on three generations of a family of rail workers and a laid-off factory employee staging a high-altitude sit-in, Mater 2-10 vividly depicts the lives of ordinary working Koreans, starting from the Japanese colonial era, continuing through Liberation, and right up to the twenty-first century.

Crooked Plow

From Salvador, Brazil, the author Itamar Vieira Junior’s book, translated by Johnny Lorenz, tells the tale of the lives of farmers from one of the poorest areas of Brazil. Vieira Juniro holds a doctorate in Ethnic and African Studies and has previously published a series of short stories.

Deep in Brazil’s neglected Bahia hinterland, two sisters find an ancient knife beneath their grandmother’s bed and, momentarily mystified by its power, decide to taste its metal. The shuddering violence that follows marks their lives and binds them together forever.

Not a River

This Argentinian book is by Selva Almada, known as a powerful voice within Latin American and Argentinian literature. Annie McDermott translated this book from Spanish. Not a River is a powerful novel that poetically portrays the characters and their surroundings well. We’ll certainly be giving this book a read!

Three men go out fishing, returning to a favourite spot on a river in Argentina, despite their memories of a terrible accident there years earlier. As a long, sultry day passes, they drink and cook and talk and dance, and try to overcome the ghosts of their past. But they are outsiders, and this intimate, peculiar moment also puts them at odds with the inhabitants of this watery universe, both human and otherwise. The forest presses close, and violence seems inevitable, but can another tragedy be avoided?


We now head over to Germany, thanks to the well-known author Jenny Erpenbeck. She is the author of many successful books. This book in particular was translated by Michael Hoffman. Kairos is a love-story that pulls between pain and pleasure! This sounds like a real page turner!

Berlin. 11 July 1986. They meet by chance on a bus. She is a young student, he is older and married. Theirs is an intense and sudden attraction, fuelled by a shared passion for music and art, and heightened by the secrecy they must maintain. But when she strays for a single night he cannot forgive her and a dangerous crack forms between them, opening up a space for cruelty, punishment and the exertion of power. An intimate and devastating story of the path of two lovers through the ruins of a relationship, set against the backdrop of a seismic period in European history.

What I’d Rather Not Think About

By Dutch author Jente Posthuma, and translated by Sarah Timmer Harvey, What I’d Rather Not Think About tells the story of a pair of twins intertwined in an emotional struggle. This is not her first successful novel. Her 2016 debut novel received critical acclaim and three literary prize nominations.

What if one half of a pair of twins no longer wants to live? What if the other can’t live without them? This question lies at the heart of Jente Posthuma’s deceptively simple What I’d Rather Not Think About. The narrator is a twin whose brother has recently taken his own life. She looks back on their childhood, and tells of their adult lives: how her brother tried to find happiness, but lost himself in various men and the Bhagwan movement, though never completely.

The Details

The next book on the Longlist is The Details by la Genberg. This Swedish book, translated by Kira Josefsson, is the author’s first book to be translated into English. The book is relatively short at 150 pages but has been described as like reading ‘a fever dream’. From the synopsis alone, this is certainly going onto our to read list!

A famous broadcaster writes a forgotten love letter; a friend abruptly disappears; a lover leaves something unexpected behind; a traumatised woman is consumed by her own anxiety. In the throes of a high fever, a woman lies bedridden.

Suddenly, she is struck with an urge to revisit a particular novel from her past. Inside the book is an inscription: a message from an ex-girlfriend. Pages from her past begin to flip, full of things she cannot forget and people who cannot be forgotten. Johanna, that same ex-girlfriend, now a famous TV host. Niki, the friend who disappeared all those years ago. Alejandro, who appears like a storm in precisely the right moment. And Birgitte, whose elusive qualities shield a painful secret. Who is the real subject of a portrait, the person being painted or the one holding the brush? 

Even though these next entries didn’t quite make the shortlist, we’re really excited to check them out!

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

White Nights – by Urszula Honek and translated by Kate Webster

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

Lost On Me – by Veronica Raimo and translated by Leah Janeczko

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

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

Undiscovered – by Gabriela Wiener and translated by Julia Sanches

Here at Web-Translations, we would like to congratulate all long- and shortlisted nominees and wish the authors luck in the final stage of the awards!

We’d love to hear which of the nominees have caught your eye! Let us know your favourite picks on Twitter and LinkedIn! Don’t forget to check out some of our other literature in translation blog posts as well!