UCLA French and Francophone professor Alain Mabanckou is one of 10 authors worldwide who have been selected as finalists for this year’s Man Booker International Prize.
The International prize is awarded every two years to a living author who has published fiction, either originally in English or whose work is generally available in English translation. It comes with a prize of 60,000 pounds — roughly $90,000 — and international acclaim. In contrast to the annual Man Booker Prize for fiction, the international award is based on a writer’s entire body of work rather than a single novel.
The winner will be announced May 19 at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London.
Mabanckou is the author of six volumes of poetry and six novels. His works have been published in 15 languages. He won the prestigious Grand Prix de la Littérature Henri Gal in 2012 for his body of work. He has received both the Sub-Saharan African Literature Prize (for “Blue-White-Red”) and the Prix Renaudot (for “Memoirs of a Porcupine”).
He was long-listed and short-listed for the Independent Foreign Fiction Prize for “Black Bazaar” and “Broken Glass” respectively. The most recently published translation of one of Mabankou’s books is “Letter to Jimmy” (SoftSkull Press), which came out in English in December.
Mabanckou was selected by the French journal Lire and by Vanity Fair as one of the 50 writers to watch for in this century. In 2011, France awarded him a Legion of Honor, the country’s highest decoration.
A high-profile celebrity in France, Mabanckou has been on the faculty of UCLA’s French and Francophone department since 2006. He splits his time among Paris, Los Angeles and his native Congo.
UCLA has long been a leader in Francophone studies, which embraces literature from the 47 countries that share a history of French colonial dominion. In 2000, the French department at UCLA was renamed to reflect its commitment to Francophone scholars and authors.
Finalists for the international prize were selected by a five-person panel of judges, including authors, publishers and academics. The short list was announced at a March 24 press conference at the University of Cape Town in South Africa.
The nine other finalists are: Cesar Aira of Argentina, Hoda Barakat of Lebanon, Maryse Condé of Guadeloupe, Mia Couto of Mozambique, Amitav Ghosh of India, U.S. author Fanny Howe, Librahim al-Koni of Libya, László Krasznahorkai of Hungary and Marlene van Niekerk of South Africa.