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Wioletta Greg Makes the Man Booker Prize Longlist
Wioletta Grzegorzewska during the  Nike award gala 2014, photo: Bartosz Krupa / East News
Wioletta Grzegorzewska during the Nike award gala 2014, photo: Bartosz Krupa / East News

The Polish author’s book Swallowing Mercury, a story of coming-of-age in a sleepy village Poland under the communist regime, is among the thirteen titles on the prestigious Man Booker Prize 2017 longlist.

On 15th March 2017, the Man Booker Prize judges announced their 2017 longlist, which celebrates the finest works of translated fiction from around the world. The list includes books by authors from France, Poland, Israel, Belgium, Norway, Albania, Iceland, China, Germany, Denmark and Argentina. The judges took 126 books from around the globe into consideration.

Nick Barley, chair of the 2017 Man Booker International Prize judging panel, says:

It’s been an exceptionally strong year for translated fiction. Our longlist consists of books that are compulsively readable and ferociously intelligent. From powerful depictions and shocking exposés of historical and contemporary horrors to intimate and compelling portraits of people going about their daily lives, our longlisted books are above all breathtakingly well-written. Fiction in translation is flourishing: in these times when walls are being built, this explosion of brilliant ideas from around the world arriving into the English language feels more important than ever.

Wioletta Greg is only the second Polish writer to be taken into consideration for the prize. The famous Polish science-fiction writer Stanisław Lem was nominated for the inaugural Man Booker Prize in 2005.

Greg’s book was met with great critical acclaim when it came out at the beginning of 2017 in the United Kingdom. Kapka Kassabova of The Guardian writes:

There is something perpetually fascinating about coming-of-age narratives, especially when they unfold in a secret country of the past where they do things differently from that of our own childhood. Better yet if they come from the mind of a poet who understands brevity. This enchantingly elliptical fiction debut by British-domiciled Polish poet Wioletta Greg sparkles with a gem-like quality. Thanks to Eliza Marciniak’s crisp translation, it brings freshness even to the crowded genre of the novella-sized bildungsroman, and can be devoured alongside the best coming-of-age translations of recent years…

Wioletta Greg, originally Wioletta Grzegorzewska, is a Polish author and poet. Born in 1974 in Koziegłowy, Poland, she currently lives on the Isle of Wight with her husband Szymon Grzegorzewski, with whom she ran a small publishing house called Bulion.  In 2015, Grzegorzewska’s poetry book Finite Formulae and Theories of Chance, published under the name Wioletta Greg and translated into English by Marek Kazmierski, was shortlisted for the Canadian Griffin Poetry Prize, one of the most important poetry prizes in the world. Grzegorzewska’s great success in Poland was the book Guguły, nominated to Nike and Gdynia awards. 

The Man Booker Prize 2017 ‘Dozen’

  • Mathias Enard (France), Charlotte Mandell, Compass (Fitzcarraldo Editions)
  • Wioletta Greg (Poland), Eliza Marciniak, Swallowing Mercury (Portobello Books)
  • David Grossman (Israel), Jessica Cohen, A Horse Walks Into a Bar (Jonathan Cape)
  • Stefan Hertmans (Belgium), David McKay, War and Turpentine (Harvill Secker)
  • Roy Jacobsen (Norway), Don Bartlett, Don Shaw, The Unseen (Maclehose)
  • Ismail Kadare (Albania), John Hodgson, The Traitor's Niche (Harvill Secker)
  • Jon Kalman Stefansson (Iceland), Phil Roughton, Fish Have No Feet (Maclehose)
  • Yan Lianke (China), Carlos Rojas, The Explosion Chronicles (Chatto & Windus)
  • Alain Mabanckou (France), Helen Stevenson, Black Moses (Serpent's Tail)
  • Clemens Meyer (Germany), Katy Derbyshire, Bricks and Mortar (Fitzcarraldo Editions)
  • Dorthe Nors (Denmark), Misha Hoekstra, Mirror, Shoulder, Signal (Pushkin Press)
  • Amos Oz (Israel), Nicholas de Lange, Judas (Chatto & Windus)
  • Samanta Schweblin (Argentina), Megan McDowell, Fever Dream (Oneworld)

The Man Booker Prize is awarded every year for a single book, which is translated into English and published in the United Kingdom. The work of the translators is equally rewarded, with the £50,000 prize divided between the author and the translator of the winning entry. In addition, each shortlisted author and translator will receive £1,000 each.

The shortlist of six books will be announced on 20th April 2017 and the winner of the 2017 prize will be announced on 14th June 2017 at a formal dinner at the Victoria & Albert Museum in London.

Sources:, own materials; compiled by NR, 15 Mar 2017

Language & Literature