Fiction in translation – 2018 Man Booker International Prize Shortlist revealed

April 26, 2018
Fiction in translation – 2018 Man Booker International Prize Shortlist revealed

Following the revision of the Man Booker International Prize in 2016, to “encourage more publishing and reading of quality fiction in translation,” entries have been flooding in from around the world for the prestigious contest. Now, the 2018 shortlist has been revealed. It offers some fascinating insights into the world of translated fiction. 

European focus

Interestingly, the contest this year has a distinctly European bent. Of the six novels on the shortlist, four are from European territories (France, Hungary, Spain and Poland), while one is from Iraq and one is from South Korea. South America, which last year was represented by Argentina’s Samanta Schweblin, is nowhere to be seen in the 2018 shortlist. 

Familiar faces

Another interesting development is the reappearance of South Korean author Han Kang in the shortlist. Having won the 2016 Man Booker International Prize with her haunting novel, The Vegetarian, Han Kang is back on the shortlist this year with her latest offering. She is working in partnership with translator Deborah Smith once more. Smith shot to fame as a result of translating Han Kang’s winning novel in 2016, despite only beginning to learn Korean a few years earlier. 

2018 Man Booker International Prize Shortlist

Full details of the 2018 Man Booker International Prize shortlist are as follows:

Virginie Despentes (France), Frank Wynne, Vernon Subutex 1 
Han Kang (South Korea), Deborah Smith, The White Book 
László Krasznahorkai (Hungary), John Batki, Ottilie Mulzet & George Szirtes, The World Goes On 
Antonio Muñoz Molina (Spain), Camilo A. Ramirez, Like a Fading Shadow 
Ahmed Saadawi (Iraq), Jonathan Wright, Frankenstein in Baghdad 
Olga Tokarczuk (Poland), Jennifer Croft, Flights

The role of the Man Booker International Prize

The Man Booker International Prize plays an important role in promoting the value of the translation industry. It celebrates some of the best literary works from authors around the globe being able to reach new audiences thanks to expert translation. One of the great features of the award is that the prize money is divided equally between the author and the translator of the winning novel. This speaks volumes about the importance placed on the authenticity of the translation and its respect for the original work.

The sharing of literary fiction is an important way to share cultural insights across international borders. It promotes a shared understanding of differing values and histories, allowing individuals to gain valuable knowledge of far off lands that otherwise they might never discover. 

Man Booker International Prize Winner 2018 

The winner of the 2018 Man Booker International Prize will be announced on 22 May 2018. Until then, the five judges will be reading, absorbing and deliberating over the novels in this year’s shortlist. 2018 marks 50 years of the Man Booker prize and, as such, this year’s winning novel will attract particular interest. 

Readers’ views

With several weeks to go until the 2018 winner is announced, readers have an excellent opportunity to make their own judgements. Do Han Kang and Deborah Smith deserve to take home the prize once more, or is one of the other entrants more deserving? 

Those providing professional translation services have a particular advantage over other readers in that they can review the novels on the shortlist both in their original language and in English. This gives them the power to assess not just the novel itself, but also the quality and craftsmanship of the translation. 

Final thoughts

Will you be reading one or more of the shortlisted novels prior to the Man Booker judges announcing the winner on 22 May? Are you opting to read the original version, the translation or both? Leave a comment below to let us know. 

By Ofer Tirosh

Ofer Tirosh is the founder and CEO of Tomedes, a language technology and translation company that supports business growth through a range of innovative localization strategies. He has been helping companies reach their global goals since 2007.



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