Booker International Prize Nominees–Have You Read Them?

The Man Booker International Prize is awarded every two years for lifetime achievement by a fiction writer who writes in English or whose work is widely available in English translation. Unlike the Booker prize for fiction, the International is given for a lifetime of work rather than one work.

Here at A Traveler’s Library we ask only what the work contributes to the travel experience. Shallow, perhaps, but somebody has to delve beyond the questions of earth-shattering importance. So I need your help here.  Can you recommend any of these writers’s books as ones that travelers to a particular country might want to peruse?

Of the List of 14 contenders announced March 8, I am sad to admit,  I have only read three–two Americans and a Canadian.  But I’m ready to dig in. Particularly if you have recommendations.

Note: If the author’s name is not linked to a web site, I could not find one. Just google for further information.

Peter Carey‘s (b.1943) nomination stirred up a lot of enthusiasm in Australia. He  gives us books that definitely would enhance the traveler’s understanding of his country.He won the Booker prize for fiction twice.

Evan S. Connel (b. 1924) resides in Santa Fe. His books include the biography Custer, Son of Morningstar follows Mrs. Bridge and Mr. Bridge, ( made into the movie Mr. and Mrs. Bridge) about a couple from Kansas City.

Mahasweta Devi(b.1926) is from Bangladesh and lives in Calcutta India. She has written 100 novels and countless short stories to high acclaim.

E. L. Doctorow (b. 1931), who lives in New York, plays with time and the possibility of historic characters meeting along the road.  I have read four of his novels, and enjoyed all of them. The last one that I read, The March, about the Civil War, shows his ability to bring historical characters to life in interaction with imagined characters. Ragtime and Billy Bathgate might shed light on a particular period and place in the United States for foreign visitors.

James Kelman (b. 1941), a Scotsman,  won the Booker Prize for Fiction in 1994 with How Late It Was, How Late. I do not know his work, but assume from reading about it that it concerns more the inner life than place.

Mario Vargas Llosa (site not in English) (b. 1936), lives in London and his native country of Peru. Since he travels widely, some of his books are set in other countries. He is called the most influential South American writer on the International scale.

Arnošt Lustig (b. 1926) in Prague, is a celebrated Czech writer. He deals almost exclusively deals with the Holocaust, which he survived as a boy.

Alice Munro (b. 1931) Canadian. Short stories mostly based in small towns in Ontario. She has been compared to America’s writers of the deep south that find universal truths in ordinary people.

V. S. Naipaul (b. 1932) Born of Indian immigrants to Trinidad, Naipaul is known as a travel writer (perhaps better as a writer about cultures) as well as novelist. He won the 1971 Booker Fiction Prize and the 2001 Nobel Prize for Literature. In honor of his nomination for this new award, I will be reading (finally!) two of his books and talking about them here soon.

Joyce Carol Oates (non-official site) (b. 1938) A well-known American writer, writes in a dazzling array of genres, but so far, no travel essays that I know of. Have I missed something?

Antonio Tabucchi (b.) 1943 in Pisa, lives in Genoa, Italy and in Portugal.

Ngugi Wa Thiong’o b. 1938  in Kenya. He currently lives and teaches in California. Wizard of the Crow is called a masterpiece of magical realism about Africa.

Dubravka Ugresic (b. 1949) in (what used to be) Yugoslavia, in its republic Croatia and now lives in Amsterdam. Her truly international work has been awarded prizes in several countries.

Ludmila Ulitskaya (b. 1943) in the Urals, divides her time between Russia and the U. S.

Now please, help me out here. You have read something I have not read.  Admit how many of these authors you have read, if you are brave. But more importantly, share what you know about any books that fit on the Traveler’s Library shelves.  Thanks!

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About Vera Marie Badertscher

A freelance writer who loves to travel. When she is not traveling she is reading about travel. When she is not reading or traveling, she is sharing with the readers of A Traveler's Library, or recreating her family's past at Ancestors In Aprons . She has written for Reel Life With Jane, Life is a Trip and other websites. Also co-author of a biography, Quincy Tahoma, The Life and Legacy of a Navajo Artist. Contact Vera Marie by e-mail.

2 thoughts on “Booker International Prize Nominees–Have You Read Them?

  1. Very interesting post. Good angle. Not sure though re: your comments on James Kelman. Yes, ok, inner life BUT (a big but) Kelman writes uncompromisingly, and unapologetically, about universal forces as they are played out in a post-industrial Glasgow with an unnerving, scalpel-like locally formed intelligence.
    Reading Kelman before visiting Glasgow will give travelling readers’ an edge on life as it is lived.
    Reading Kelman after visiting Glasgow will give travellers a much clearer sense of why it is as it is. My tuppence worth anyway.

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