8 paragraph novel shortlisted for International Booker Prize

Caroline Allen
·2-min read
It sits alongside five other shortlisted titles. (PA)
It sits alongside five other shortlisted titles. (PA)

A novel featuring just eight paragraphs is up for the prestigious International Booker Prize.

The shortlist was announced digitally - because of the coronavirus - and the winner will go on to claim the £50,000 prize.

There are six books in the running for the prize, which explore the themes of “trauma, loss and sweeping illness”.

One of the titles has gathered international attention due to its length. Hurricane Season written in Spanish by Fernanda Melchor and translated into English by Sophie Hughes, has just eight paragraphs.

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Each chapter contains a single paragraph and despite its length, it has received thousands of five-star reviews.

One reviewer described the book as “littered with profanities” while others likened the story to Milkman, a novel by Anna Burns which won the 2018 International Booker Prize.

The first chapter opens with the discovery of a murder victim, but the writer asks “why” were they murdered rather than “who” murdered them.

The judges described it as a “propulsive translation, the eight paragraphs of this novel spiral down through layers of violence, corruption and desire”.

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It’s not the only book on the shortlist to touch on how our experiences are shaped by trauma.

The Memory Police by Yoko Ogawa and The Discomfort Of Evening by Marieke Lucas Rijneveld both delve into this very pertinent topic.

The other books on the shortlist - The Enlightenment Of The Greengage Tree by Shokoofeh Azar, The Adventures Of China Iron by Gabriela Cabezon Camara and Tyll by Daniel Kehlmann - all look at the nations of their countries of origin.

These were chosen because of their “pursuit of intellectual freedom, the exploration of sexual identity, and survival in the face of political unrest and sweeping illness”, the judges explained.

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The shortlist features titles translated from Spanish, German, Dutch, Farsi and Japanese.

The £50,000 prize is split equally between writer and translator and is most often won by one of the writers.

However, in 2019 both The Testaments by Margaret Attwood and Girl, Woman, Other by Bernadine Evaristo both took home half of the pot each as joint winners.