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Bulgarian writer and translator win International Booker Prize

News Desk || risingbd.com

Published: 09:43, 25 May 2023  
Bulgarian writer and translator win International Booker Prize

Bulgarian Writer Georgi Gospodinov and his translator Angela Rodel have won the International Booker Prize for the novel ‘Time Shelter’.

This has become the first book written in Bulgarian to win the Booker Prize. The name was announced at an event in London. The authors of the six books shortlisted for the prestigious literary prize each received £50,000 ($62,000 at the current exchange rate), which they will split with the book’s English translator.

Leïla Slimani, Chair of the International Booker Prize 2023 judges said, “Our winner, Time Shelter, is a brilliant novel, full of irony and melancholy. It is a profound work that deals with a very contemporary question: What happens to us when our memories disappear? Georgi Gospodinov succeeds marvelously in dealing with both individual and collective destinies and it is this complex balance between the intimate and the universal that convinced and touched us.”

Speaking about the book, author Georgi Gospodinov said, “My urge to write this book came from the sense that something had gone awry in the clockworks of time. You could catch the scent of anxiety hanging in the air, you could touch it with your finger. After 2016 we seemed to be living in another world and another time. The world’s disintegration with the encroachment of populism and playing the card of the ‘great past’ in the US and in Europe provoked me.”

Transalator Angela Rodel said, “I actually began translating the book before I had the chance to read it, for the simple reason that it had not been finished yet! Given the success of Georgi’s previous novel, The Physics of Sorrow, numerous people, especially colleagues from his Cullman Center fellowship, but also his agent and others, were very eager to get a peek at his new work-in-progress – thus in the fall of 2019 I translated a 50-page excerpt of what would later become the opening of Time Shelter, which was finally published in Bulgarian in the infamous spring of 2020. Once the full Bulgarian final draft was ready, I dove in and translated the whole book in about six months.”

Authors from Bulgaria, Spain, Côte d'Ivoire, Mexico, France, and South Korea competed for the prize this year. Works in Bulgarian and Catalan were shortlisted for the first time.

This year’s shortlist includes six incredible stories, each with its own unique theme. Boulder by Eva Baltasar, Whale by Cheon Myeong-kwan, Standing Heavy by Gauz, Guadalupe Nettel’s Still Born, Time Shelter by Georgi Goapodinov, and Maryse Condé’s The Gospel According to the New World are among them.

According to the official website, the International Booker Prize is an annual award given for the “finest single work of fiction” in English translation published in the United Kingdom and Ireland. The prize aims to not only highlight the works of renowned and lesser-known authors from around the world but also to recognise the vital contributions made to the literary world by translators and translated fiction. 

The Booker Prize was established in 1968 and was first awarded the following year. Until 2013, the prize was only awarded to authors of English-language works who lived in a Commonwealth country, Ireland, or Zimbabwe, but the organising committee then allowed books written in English and published in the United Kingdom to be nominated.

The International Booker Prize has been awarded for literary works translated into English since 2005. The winners were initially announced every two years, but in 2016 it became an annual award. Every year, a five-person judging panel of writers, translators, and critics selects the winner. It was chaired in 2023 by Leila Slimani, a French writer of Moroccan origin._Agencies