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Capital Hill Cashgate Scandal : Fiction at its finest
The Man Booker Prizes were created to reward the finest in fiction, and to bring great books to avid readers. Starting this year, the 11-year-old Man Booker International Prize will be awarded annually for a single book, translated into English and published in the UK. As such, it mirrors the long-established Man Booker Prize for fiction which does the same for a book written in English.
The Man Group has sponsored the original prize since 2002 and the international prize since it was started in 2005. The symmetrical relationship between the two prizes will ensure that “Man Booker” can now honour fiction on a global basis – the name will be synonymous with choosing the year’s very best books in English.
But, given that only a tiny percentage of novels in English have been translated from another language, is it really worth all this effort?
The short answer is yes. The extraordinary success of Karl Ove Knausgård and Elena Ferrante in recent years is proof that fiction from other lands has a global following. Last year a new report from Literature Across Frontiers (LAF) finally put some figures on this. The statistics show a steady growth of literary translations over the past two decades, both in absolute numbers and as a share of the whole. The number of literary translations into English grew by two-thirds between 1990 and 2012, accounting for a peak of 5.23% of the whole in 2011 against an average of just 3%. Specialist foreign-fiction publishers, such as Quercus, Pereine and Pushkin, have all sprung up in the past decade or so.