Focus on Judas - Man Booker International 2017

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The Man Booker International Prize celebrates the finest works of translated fiction from around the world. The prize is awarded every year for a single book, which is translated into English and published in the UK. Both novels and short-story collections are eligible, and the writer and translator are rewarded equally for their contribution.

The full shortlist of six titles can be found here, but in this series of articles we will look at each title in detail.


Set in the still-divided Jerusalem of 1959-60, Judas is a tragi-comic coming-of-age tale and a radical rethinking of the concept of treason. Shmuel, a young, idealistic student, is drawn to a strange house and its mysterious occupants within. As he starts to uncover the house’s tangled history, he reaches an understanding that harks back not only to the beginning of the Jewish-Arab conflict, but also to the beginning of Jerusalem itself – to Christianity, to Judaism, to Judas.

Get involved

Have you read Judas? Do you want to know what other readers thought? You can leave a review, read a review or add the book to your group’s reading list.

Want to know more? Download a Readers’ Guide for Judas, including information about the author and translator, as well as some discussion notes and themed reading.

Want ideas on what to read next? We’ve created a supporting booklist with suggestions of other books that you might like to try if you enjoyed Judas, including books with similar settings or themes.

A word from Isle of Wight College Reading Group

Isle of Wight College Reading Group are one of the brilliant reading groups shadowing the prize this year, and have been reading Judas.

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“Our final reading group meeting of the academic year (sniff!) opened with thinking about the role of the translator; was everyone aware about how the book is taken from Hebrew and translated into English, did everyone know that for Judas to be make accessible around the world it would have to be translated by different people? How relevant did we think that the author and translator had worked together for a long time (seventeen books in total)?

We talked about the Man Booker Prize and how important it was to have a separate International Prize and that it was was equally shared between the author and translator. We also talked about the translator’s role in the context of how the original voice of the author still had to shine through.
This was quite a challenging read for us. It was agreed that the book was out of the comfort zone of many. We mostly agreed that it made the book more enjoyable to read, pushing through the barrier of reluctance. The book was very beautifully written, despite a very unappealing book cover (should that matter?!) and many of us had looked up the history around the novel to get more context about the time and place it was set. We found the main characters of the book very well described; hypersensitive Shmuel and Atalia who ‘nothing can hurt…. anymore.’

Although we haven’t had the chance to read any other #MBI2017 shortlisted works yet, we support Amos Oz and Judas to win on June 14th! Being part of the shadowing process has allowed us to reflect on our reading, to push ourselves that little bit further and to be less afraid to share our experiences with others."


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