The International Booker Prize 2021: Shortlistee Events Announced

The International Booker Prize 2021: Shortlistee Events Announced

Following the unveiling of the six books shortlisted for the 2021 International Booker Prize this afternoon, we are thrilled to announce an exciting series of live online conversations with the shortlisted authors and translators to take place over the next few weeks.

The conversations are part of a partnership between the Book Festival and the International Booker Prize and will take place weekly from 29 April up to the announcement of the winner in June.  All the events will be free to view through the Book Festival’s website and available on demand for those unable to watch live.

Our Director, Nick Barley, said “This year’s International Booker Prize shortlist offers the first worldwide survey of novels published since the pandemic took hold and they offer plenty of food for thought. Our partnership with the International Booker Prize presents some of the most stimulating and thought-provoking writers and thinkers from across the globe who have been published in translation this year offering a rare opportunity to explore how novels are charting the progress of human history while it’s still in the eye of a storm.”

Olga Ravn has come to be regarded as one of the most influential writers in contemporary Danish literature. In her new book, The Employees, she has crafted a small masterpiece; brilliantly translated into English by award-winning translator Martin Aitken. Ravn and Aitken share their ideas with Scotland-based writer Heather Parry on Thursday 29 April at 7.30pm.

Translator Megan McDowell and Argentinian journalist, novelist and short story writer Mariana Enriquez discuss the explosive collection of short stories, The Dangers of Smoking in Bed with writer, editor and translator Daniel Hahn on Thursday 6 May at 7.30pm. This translation marks the second time that Enriquez and McDowell have worked together. Read more and bookmark your place.

French-Senegalese author David Diop’s unforgettable short novel At Night All Blood Is Black paints a starkly different picture of the brutality of the First World War. Anna Moschovakis is the translator who has brought Diop’s elegant, spare prose to English-speaking readers as Diop conjures up a picture of fresh hell and takes his lead character right into the heart of it. They discuss the book on Thursday 13 May at 7.30pm. Find out more and mark your calendar.

The thrilling new work by Benjamin Labatut hovers somewhere between fiction and non-fiction. His third book, When We Cease To Understand the World, has been translated from the Spanish by writer and translator Adrian Nathan West. Labatut and West discuss this majestic book with writer, critic and translator Jay G Ying on Thursday 20 May at 7.30pm.

Moscow-based Maria Stepanova’s astounding meta-memoir is a panoramic, absorbing reflection on the nature of memory, filtered through the lens of her own family’s history as Jewish people living in Soviet Russia. Superbly translated by poet, playwright and translator Sasha Dugdale, In Memory of Memory begins with Stepanova sorting through the possessions of her beloved aunt after her death and piecing together a picture of life in Soviet Russia.  Stepanova and Dugdale discuss the work with BBC journalist Allan Little on Tuesday 25 May at 7.30pm.

In his newest work The War of the Poor, the French author Éric Vuillard goes deep into history with a engaging account of the life of a radical preacher in 16th-century Bavaria. Thomas Müntzer’s astonishing life is much less distant from an 21st-century English-speaker’s perspective than it may at first sound – not least because Vuillard’s short novel is as entertaining as a thriller and rendered brilliantly into English by Mark Polizzotti. Vuillard and Polizzotti discuss the novel with journalist Amelia Gentleman, author of The Windrush Betrayal, on Thursday 27 May at 7.30pm.

All six events are available to watch free of charge through the Edinburgh International Book Festival website and will be available to watch ‘on demand’ for those who miss the live broadcasts.

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