Grossman was named for his latest work “A Horse Walks Into a Bar,” translated by Jessica Cohen, and Amos Oz for his opus, “Judas,” translated by Nicholas de Lange.
Grossman’s novel is set in a comedy club in Netanya, focusing on a comedian falling apart on stage. The translator, Cohen, was born in England, raised in Israel and lives in Denver, and has translated Grossman as well as Etgar Keret, Rutu Modan, Dorit Rabinyan and others.
Oz’s novel, set in Jerusalem of the late 1950s, is a historical coming-of-age novel that mirrors aspects of Oz’s own upbringing in the holy city. The book, his first in a decade, has already won a major German literature prize.
Oz was a finalist for the Booker in 2007; his translator, de Lange, has translated 17 of his novels.
Edinburgh International Book Festival director Nick Barley, who chaired the judging panel, said Grossman’s portrait of a failing standup comic and Oz’s story of history and betrayal were masterworks by mature writers with big international reputations.
The other contenders are Argentine novelist Samanta Schweblin and her debut novel “Fever Dream,” French writer Mathias Enard’s “Compass,” Norwegian author Roy Jacobsen’s family epic “The Unseen,” and Danish novelist Dorthe Nors’ “Mirror, Shoulder, Signal.”
The winner of the Man Booker International Prize will be announced on June 14 at a dinner at the Victoria & Albert Museum in London. The winner receives a £50,000 prize, which is divided equally between author and translator. Each shortlisted author and translator receives £1,000 ($1,281).
The prize is sponsored by Man Group, an active investment management firm that also sponsors the prestigious Man Booker Prize for Fiction. The international version of the award is open to books published in any language that have been translated into English.