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Reflections of a working writer and reader



Best News of the Week

Two items of good news this week. I don’t usually rate literary prizes, and the announcement of their winners often elicits a groan of pain from me. But both of these were deserved.

Chinua Achebe1. Nigerian novelist Chinua Achebe won the 2007 Man Booker International Prize for fiction. Other nominees for the prize included Philip Roth, Margaret Atwood and Ian McEwan.
The $120,000 prize is awarded every two years for a body of fiction.
Achebe, 76, is best known for his first novel, Things Fall Apart (1958). He has written more than 20 books, including novels, short stories, essays and collections of poetry.

Per Petterson2. The Norwegian author Per Petterson has won the 100,000 euro IMPAC Dublin Literary Award for his novel “Out Stealing Horses,” which charts how a child’s death and a family breakdown end a teenager’s innocence and haunt him into old age.
Petterson, 55, received three-quarters of the award with the remainder going to Anne Born, who translated the novel into English.
The novel follows an ageing man as he recalls the traumatic events of his childhood. His destiny changed direction in the summer of 1948, when he was only 15. Through his memories the novel explores how the recovered past impinges on the present.
Anne Born’s English translation of the novel was published in November 2005 to great critical acclaim. It has yet to reach the wider audience enjoyed by the original in Petterson’s home country.

My review of To Siberia, Per Petterson’s latest offering, is here.

The picture, above, shows Per Petterson and Ann Born.

2 Responses to “Best News of the Week”

  1. anne says:

    How wonderful that they gave a portion of the award to the translator. Logic rarely combines with generosity and decency. And thanks for reporting it.

    Have you read Bernard Schlink’s “The Reader”? It sounds as if “Out Stealing Horses” is similar in tone. And, incidentally, The Reader’s translator was brilliant, keeping the sensitivities and tone of the German intact.

    jb says: Hi Anne. Yes, I did read The Reader a couple of years back. I’m not sure that they are that similar in tone. Perhaps it would be closer to say that they are similar in structure. Both good books but I would have to say that, for me, Out Stealing Horses has the edge.

  2. Lee says:

    I second that about translators, who are vastly under appreciated … unless you happen to need a good one.

    I’m pining for a copy of To Siberia, which appears to be out-of-print in English (and very pricey secondhand). Perhaps Petterson’s win will bring it back into favour.

    jb says: This is not the only sign that translators are beginning to gain some long-overdue recognition. And, yes, the prices for used copies of To Siberia are amazing. I’m sure it will be reprinted soon. Goodness knows why Harvill/Ramdom House didn’t reprint it when Per Petterson won The Independent’s Foreign Fiction prize some months ago.