In what has become a biennial tradition (see 2018, 2020), I present to you my guide to the International Booker Prize for Canadians. The fact that this is necessary is a good thing, as it means this prize continues to spotlight small publishers. Small publishers don’t always have international distribution, but, where there’s a will, and a spreadsheet, there’s a way.
This year’s spreadsheet includes basic demographics, UK publisher, Canadian publisher, and extensive options for reading in Canada, including print, ebook, audiobook, free digital options, and ordering direct from the UK. The info from 2020 is there as well if you need to catch up!*
Some of the highlights of this year’s search include:
- A book with a beautiful cover that’s difficult to find in print, with a reasonably priced ebook option and free on Hoopla – Cursed Bunny by Bora Chung, tr. Anton Hur
- A book available on Hoopla in both ebook and audiobook – Heaven by Mieko Kawakami, tr. Samuel Bett and David Boyd
- The most difficult to find: Happy Stories, Mostly by Norman Erikson Pasaribu, tr. Tiffany Tsao and Tomb of Sand by Geetanjali Shree, tr. Daisy Rockwell, both published by Tilted Axis Press with no Canadian buying options.
- The best deals (print under $25) are Elena Knows by Claudia Piñeiro, tr. Frances Riddel, and Phenotypes by Paulo Scott, tr. Daniel Hahn.
- The most pricey and most in demand is The Books of Jacob by Olgo Tokarczuk, tr. Jennifer Croft (nearly $50 print, many holds at the library). Guess it’s the Nobel Prize effect.
Personally, I find myself in a predicament: I’m in the middle of a Gargantua and Pantagruel read-along that requires about 25 pages/day to keep pace, and I’ve just started The Secret History and don’t really want to put it down. I don’t have a lot of room in my reading day. BUT this list is probably the best since I started following the prize in 2018. I may have to get serious after the shortlist is announced on April 7.
*We don’t talk about the 2021 International Booker.