Grossman is a bestselling Israeli writer of fiction, non-fiction and children’s books, whose works have been translated into 36 languages. He has been the recipient of numerous global 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, who was born in England but raised in Jerusalem, previously translated Grossman’s critically acclaimed To the End of the Land as well as work by other major Israeli writers including Etgar Keret, Rutu Modan, Dorit Rabinyan, Ronit Matalon, Amir Gutfreund, Tom Segev, and Ari Folman.
A Horse Walks Into a Bar unfolds over the course of one final show by stand-up comedian, Dovaleh Gee. Charming, erratic and repellent, Dovaleh exposes a wound he has been living with for years: a fateful and gruesome choice he had to make between the two people who were dearest to him. Themes encompass betrayal between lovers, the treachery of friends, guilt and redress.
The novel was selected from 126 books by a panel of five judges, including Elif Shafak, a prize-winning novelist and one of the most widely read writers in Turkey.
This is only the second year that the Man Booker International Prize has been awarded to a single book, with the prize money divided equally between the author and the translator. Previously, it honoured a whole body of work published either originally in English, or available in translation into English.
Last year, the first winner under the new format was The Vegetarian by Han Kang, translated from Korean by Deborah Smith. According to statistics from publishing industry sources, in the UK sales of fiction translated from Korean into English have grown 400% since Han Kang’s success. This highlights the remarkable impact the newly evolved Man Booker International Prize has had in the UK.