The man sitting in judgment on the world’s finest writers
He is clear, however, that this is not the way forward for the Man Booker International.
“Something which the chair of judges [Nick Barley, director of the Edinburgh International Book Festival] said in our very first meeting was that he thinks it’s important for every book to get proper attention from the judges — that every book is read properly by all of us. This is certainly the most labourintensive way of doing it but it’s also the most rigorous and fair way.”
The six authors shortlisted for the prize have just been announced. They include two giants of Israeli literature — David Grossman and Amos Oz.
A major challenge of the judging process is how to compare books that are not in any way alike. How can one, for example, look at a moody, atmospheric novella from Venezuela and an epic fantasy novel from Norway and decide which is better?
“We’re trying to figure out what it is a book’s trying to do and then how well it does it,” explains Mr Hahn. ‘We’re trying to work out how well realised these books are on whatever terms they’re attempting to realise themselves.”