Updated: 13/03/18 : 07:28:58
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Sligo translator shortlisted twice for Man Booker International Prize

An Sligo translator has made the 13-strong longlist for this year’s £50,000 Man Booker International Prize not once but twice, for translations from two languages.

Frank Wynne, from Strandhill, Co Sligo, has been nominated for his tranlations of The Impostor by Spanish writer Javier Cercas and Vernon Subutex 1 by Virginie Despentes, both published by MacLehose Press.

He has previously won the Independent Foreign Fiction Prize for his translation of Windows on the World by Frédéric Beigbeder and the IMPAC/Dublin Literary Festival Prize in 2002 for Atomised (The Elementary Particles) by Michel Houellebecq.

The 13 longlisted books have been translated from 10 different languages, across Europe, Asia, South America and the Middle East. Previous winners Han Kang (2016) and László Krasznahorkai (2015) are both on the longlist, for The While Book and The World Goes On respectively.

The Irish Times reports that other popular choices on the longlist include The 7th Function of Language by Laurent Binet, translated by Sam Taylor; Go, Went, Gone by Jenny Erpenbeck, translated by Susan Bernofsky; Frankenstein in Baghdad by Ahmed Saadawi, translated by Jonathan Wright; and The Dinner Guest by Gabriela Ybarra, translated by Natasha Wimmer and reviewed here last Saturday.

Also of particular Irish interest is The Flying Mountain by Christoph Ransmayr, translated by Simon Pare. It tells the story of two brothers who leave the southwest coast of Ireland on an expedition to Tibet, looking for an untamed, unnamed mountain that represents perhaps the last blank spot on the map.

The prize, which celebrates the finest works of translated fiction from around the world, 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. The work of translators is equally rewarded, with the £50,000 prize divided between the author and the translator of the winning entry. In addition, each shortlisted author and translator will receive £1,000 each. The judges considered 108 books.

The longlist was selected by a panel of five judges, chaired by Lisa Appignanesi OBE, author and cultural commentator, with Michael Hofmann, poet, reviewer and translator from German; Hari Kunzru, author of five novels including The Impressionist and White Tears; Tim Martin, journalist and literary critic, and Helen Oyeyemi, author of novels, plays and short stories including The Icarus Girl.

Appignanesi said: “Judging this Man Booker International Prize has been an exhilarating adventure. We have travelled across countries, cultures, imaginations, somehow to arrive at what could have been an even longer longlist. It’s one which introduces a wealth of talent, a variety of forms and some writers little known in English before. It has great writing and translating energy and we hope readers take as much pleasure in discovering the work as we did.”

The shortlist of six books will be announced on April 12th and the winner on May 22nd. Last year’s winner was A Horse Walks Into a Bar by David Grossman, translated by Jessica Cohen.

“I came to translation almost by accident,” Wynne told Authors & Translators magazine. “I left Ireland (and an unfinished degree in English and Philosophy) at the age of 22 and moved to Paris. I had never been to France, or indeed anywhere very much and had only school French meaning that my rather halting speech (there was no oral examination in Ireland in the late 70s) sounded rather like that way Maupassant writes.

“Literary translation allows me the privilege of ‘writing’ novels I could never imagine, of attempting to find a voice for authors and their characters, of working with the nuts and bolts of language to try and recreate narratives I love and admire.”