The Man Booker International prize: a celebration of translation

The prize, together with the increased visibility of books by writers such as Elena Ferrante and Karl Ove Knausgaard, may be behind the rising popularity of translated fiction On Monday evening, the inaugural winners of the new Man Booker International prize will be named, rewarding the best translated novel of the year, a high-profile acclamation with a generous prize pot split evenly between translator and original author. And as part of this welcome focus, the MBIP has commissioned research from Nielsen into how the increasing number of works of translated literature actually sell. The headline data is still only partial, but promising: in the past 15 years, while the overall fiction market has stagnated, translated fiction sales have apparently increased by 96%. And today’s translations actually sell on average better than non-translations. But should we really be surprised? All too often we translators discuss “translated fiction” as though it appeals only to a discerning but limited readership. A niche interest. Yet what we’re really talking about is every book from all of continental Europe and Latin America, from much of Africa and most of Asia. That’s quite some niche. Continue reading...