Last year, I wanted to read the entire International Booker Prize longlist but after several disappointments and a few meh books, I lost focus and didn’t read the last few. I have one left on my shelf so I’ll get to it at some point this year.
I did find a new favourite from last year’s list though it was worth looking at! This year, I’m going to be a bit more selective so these are the books I want to read from the 2022 longlist.
All summaries have been taken from the International Booker Prize website.
The Books of Jacob by Olga Tokarczuk (tr. Jennifer Croft)
In the mid-18th century, as new ideas begin to sweep the continent, a young Jew of mysterious origins arrives in a village in Poland. Before long, he has changed not only his name but his persona; visited by what seem to be ecstatic experiences, Jacob Frank casts a charismatic spell that attracts an increasingly fervent following.
I read Drive your Plow over the Bones of the Dead at the beginning of this year and loved it so I want to read this one. I am slightly intimidated by the length (and I did walk away from it in a book shop recently) but during the summer months, when I have more time, I’ll be tackling this giant.
Love in the Big City by Sang Young Park (tr. Anton Hur)
Young is a cynical yet fun-loving Korean student who pinballs from home to class to the beds of recent Tinder matches. He and Jaehee, his female best friend and roommate, frequent nearby bars, where they suppress their anxieties about their love lives, families and money with rounds of soju and freezer-chilled Marlboro Reds.
This one seems like it’ll be a little out of my comfort zone but that’s what makes it so appealing! The summary really caught my eye.
Happy Stories, Mostly by Norman Erikson Pasaribu (tr. by Tiffany Tsao)
Inspired by Simone Weil’s concept of ‘decreation’ and drawing on Batak and Christian cultural elements, in Happy Stories, Mostly Pasaribu puts queer characters in situations and plots conventionally filled by hetero characters.
Absurdist Queer literature? Sign me up! From the summary, this book seems like it’ll be strange and sad. Uncomfortable yet comforting. It’s calling to me and I will answer that call at some point this year.
Elena Knows by Claudia Piñeiro (tr. by Frances Riddle)
After Rita is found dead in the bell tower of the church she used to attend, the official investigation into the incident is quickly closed. Her sickly mother is the only person still determined to find the culprit.
The crime-fiction slant to this book is what initially caught my eye but the summary promises much more than just a murder mystery. I’m excited about this one because I’ve really enjoyed the small amounts of Argentine literature I’ve read. There’s just something special about Argentine literature for me.
Cursed Bunny by Bora Chung (tr. Anton Hur)
Korean author Bora Chung uses elements of the fantastic and surreal to address the very real horrors and cruelties of patriarchy and capitalism in modern society.
I really hope this book delivers the surreal, horrifying exploration of modern society that it promises. I know it won’t be a representation of my own society since Chung is Korean but I think it’ll still be very interesting. I think this will be one of the first books I pick up from this year’s list.
I do want to read Jon Fosse’s Septology, the final book of which was featured on the longlist, but that’s going to be a project for me and I’ll need to start with the first volume.
Have you read any of these books? Let me know what you thought of them!