A Horse Walks Into a Bar by Israeli writer David Grossman has been announced as the winner of the 2017 Man Booker International Prize for global fiction in translation. The book was translated by Jessica Cohen and is published in Britain by Jonathan Cape.
Both the winning author and translator will receive £25,000 and a further £1,000 each for being shortlisted.
Grossman is a bestselling Israeli writer of fiction, non-fiction and children’s literature, whose works have been translated into 36 languages. He is the first Israeli to win a Booker Prize.
He previously received awards including the French Chevalier de l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres, the Buxtehuder Bulle in Germany, Rome’s Premio per la Pace e l’Azione Umanitaria, the Frankfurt Peace Prize and Israel’s Emet Prize.
Cohen, born in England and raised in Jerusalem, previously translated Grossman’s critically acclaimed To the End of the Land as well as works by other major Israeli writers including Etgar Keret and Golden Globe-winning director Ari Folman.
A Horse Walks Into a Bar unfolds over the course of one final show by stand-up comedian Dovaleh Gee, who exposes a fateful and gruesome choice he had to make between the two people who were dearest to him.
It was selected from 126 books by a panel of five judges, and was announced as the 2017 winner at an exclusive dinner at the Victoria & Albert Museum, London.
“David Grossman has attempted an ambitious high-wire act of a novel, and he’s pulled it off spectacularly,” said Nick Barley, chair of the 2017 judging panel. “A Horse Walks into a Bar shines a spotlight on the effects of grief, without any hint of sentimentality. The central character is challenging and flawed, but completely compelling. We were bowled over by Grossman’s willingness to take emotional as well as stylistic risks: every sentence counts, every word matters in this supreme example of the writer’s craft.”