The 18 contenders for the inaugural Man Booker International Prize were announced today.
The £60,000 prize is open to authors of all nationalities who write in English or whose work has been widely translated into English.
Unlike the Man Booker Prize, which is awarded for a particular novel, the international award recognises an author’s body of work.
The contenders include Margaret Atwood, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Saul Bellow, Gunter Grass, Milan Kundera, Philip Roth, Ian McEwan, Doris Lessing, Muriel Spark and John Updike.
Two of the authors, McEwan and Atwood, are previous winners of the Booker.
The list was compiled by a judging panel chaired by British author and academic Professor John Carey.
“For us, these are 18 authors who combine uniqueness and universality and remind us irresistibly of the joy of reading,” Prof Carey said.
There is bound to be debate about the authors who failed to make the list.
The likes of JM Coetzee, VS Naipaul, Kazuo Ishiguro and Salman Rushdie – all Booker winners – are absent.
The winner of the prize will be announced in London in June. The prize is awarded every two years and an author can win the award only once.
It will reward an author for “continued creativity, development and overall contribution to fiction on the world stage”.
The prize was set up in response to complaints over the years that the Man Booker Prize is limited to UK and Commonwealth writers.
Besides Professor Carey, the international judging panel includes novelist Alberto Manguel and writer and academic Azar Nafisi.
List of contenders:
:: Margaret Atwood (Canada)
:: Saul Bellow (Canada)
:: Gabriel Garcia Marquez (Colombia)
:: Gunter Grass (Germany)
:: Ismail Kadare (Albania)
:: Milan Kundera (Czechoslovakia)
:: Stanislaw Lem (Poland)
:: Doris Lessing (Britain)
:: Ian McEwan (Britain)
:: Naguib Mahfouz (Egypt)
:: Tomas Eloy Martinez (Argentina)
:: Kenzaburo Oe (Japan)
:: Cynthia Ozick (US)
:: Philip Roth (US)
:: Muriel Spark (Britain)
:: Antonio Tabucchi (Italy)
:: John Updike (US)
:: Abraham B Yehoshua (Israel)