The shortlist for this year’s International Booker prize has been described by the chair of judges as “a list of remarkable variety” and “very cool and very sexy”.

This year’s six chosen books include two translated from languages that have never featured before in the prize: Eva Baltasar’s Boulder is translated by Julia Sanches from the original Catalan while Time Shelter by Georgi Gospodinov is translated from Bulgarian by Angela Rodel.

The International Booker prize 2023 shortlist


Boulder by Eva Baltasar, translated by Julia Sanches (And Other Stories)

Whale by Cheon Myeong-kwan, translated by Chi-Young Kim (Europa)

The Gospel According to the New World by Maryse Condé, translated by Richard Philcox (World Editions)

Standing Heavy by GauZ’, translated by Frank Wynne (MacLehose)

Time Shelter by Georgi Gospodinov, translated by Angela Rodel (Weidenfeld & Nicolson)

Still Born by Guadalupe Nettel, translated by Rosalind Harvey (Fitzcarraldo)

Joining them on the shortlist is The Gospel According to the New World by Maryse Condé, translated by her husband Richard Philcox. Condé, at 89, has become the oldest person to be nominated for the prize.

The list is completed by Whale by Cheon Myeong-kwan, translated from Korean by Chi-Young Kim; Standing Heavy by GauZ’, translated from French by Frank Wynne; and Guadalupe Nettel’s Still Born, translated from Spanish by Rosalind Harvey

Leïla Slimani. Photograph: Ludovic Marin/AFP/Getty Images
Leïla Slimani. Photograph: Ludovic Marin/AFP/Getty Images


Novelist Leïla Slimani, chair of the judges for this year’s prize, said the books on the list were “bold, subversive, nicely perverse”.


“There is something sneaky about all of them,” she added. “I also feel these are very sensual books where the question of the body is important; what it is to be and have a body, how do you write about the experience of the body.”

Joining Slimani on this year’s panel are Uilleam Blacker, one of Britain’s leading literary translators from Ukrainian; Booker-shortlisted Malaysian novelist Tan Twan Eng; Parul Sehgal, staff writer and critic at the New Yorker; and Frederick Studemann, literary editor of the Financial Times.

Worth £50,000, the International Booker is awarded annually for a novel or short story collection written originally in any language, translated into English and published in the UK or Ireland. The prize money is split equally between the author and translator of the winning book.

Boulder, a story about queer love and motherhood, was described by the judges as a “very intense, poetic, sensual book about all kinds of appetites”.

Whale follows bizarre occurrences in the lives of linked characters in a remote village in South Korea. The judges said it would “fill you with awe” and was a “book to be swallowed by and to live inside for a while”.

The Gospel According to the New World, about a boy rumoured to be the child of God, was described as “joyful and optimistic” by the judges, who said it was a “deceptively simple novel full of wisdom, generosity of spirit and the writer’s palpable tenderness towards the world and her craft”.

The judges said Standing Heavy, about two generations of Ivoirians trying to make their way as undocumented workers in Paris, “is the story of colonialism and consumerism, of the specifics of power, and of the hope of the 60s diminishing as society turns cynical and corrupt”.

Time Shelter, about the opening of a “clinic for the past” that offers a treatment for Alzheimer’s sufferers, was described by the judges as an “inventive novel with an unexpectedly cheeky tone to it”. They added that it was a “fresh staging of old questions: the danger of selective memory, the inheritance of trauma, and how nostalgia can take a grip on society and become a comfort blanket – or a cancer”.

Still Born, about two women grappling with whether or not to have children, was described by the judges as the “product of a deep wisdom” and “honest, unsentimental and compassionate about the choices we think we’re making, and the choices that are foisted upon us”.

The winning book will be announced at a ceremony in London on 23 May. The 2022 winner was Tomb of Sand by Geetanjali Shree, translated by Daisy Rockwell. It was the first novel translated from Hindi to win the prize.

The announcement of the shortlist follows research by Nielsen for the Booker Prize Foundation that shows the biggest group of translated fiction readers in the UK is made up of 25 to 34-year-olds, compared with 60 to 84-year-olds for fiction as a whole.

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