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The International Booker Prize 2022 Revealed: The Award that Celebrates Authors and their Equally Gifted Translators

Mhairi MacLeod

Sunday, 10 April 2022

It’s book awards season and if there was ever a time to add some incredible works of translated fiction to your reading list, it’s now. Our Deputy Editor, Mhairi, tells us about the underestimated art of translation and gives us a rundown on the longlist of the International Booker Prize 2022.

The highly anticipated International Booker Prize 2022 longlist has been revealed and this year the list includes a plethora of incredible books from all over the world. The thirteen selected books have been translated from 11 languages and 12 countries and the list includes a piece translated from Hindi for the first time.

The International Booker Prize is renowned for its celebration of translated fiction and the prize gives equal recognition to the authors and the translators, with the £50,000 prize being split equally. The award celebrates perspectives, narratives, cultures, and characters from all over the globe.

Whilst the translation of English books has been popular throughout time, the reverse has never been as sought after for various reasons. In recent times however, the demand for translated and foreign fiction has risen and has been gaining popularity. One only has to look briefly at the Instagram book community, or ‘bookstagram’, before noticing that foreign writers such as Murakami, Ishiguro and Fernanda Melchor come up as recommended reads time and time again.

The task of translating a literary piece of work should not be underestimated. How does one effectively translate nuances specific to the initial language in which it was originally written? What about colloquial or slang terms? As for the flow of writing, do translators stick to the original and literal translation or do they slightly alter it to produce a mesmerising, more agreeable read? So much has to be considered when translating a book into another language and it can only be considered an art form.

This year’s five judges certainly had a serious task on their hands however, after months of consideration and deliberation, they have whittled down the selection to just 13 books for the longlist. Frank Wynne, the chair of the 2022 judges, referred to the experience “as a kind of heaven”.

Borges famously believed that paradise would be “a kind of library”, and spending the past year in the company of some of the world’s great writers and their equally gifted translators has been a kind of heaven. From the intimate to the epic, the numinous to the profane, the books make up a passionately debated longlist that trace a ring around the world. These 13 titles from 12 countries and 11 languages explore the breadth and depth of human experience, and are a testament to the power of language and literature.

Here is the thrilling International Booker Prize longlist, all of which should be added to your reading list immediately. The shortlist of just six books will be announced on April 7th and the final winner will be revealed on the 26th May – a date for your diary.


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Barbara Dawson

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Lovely tasty dish. Try it you won’t be disappointed.

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Aunty Liz

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Very tasty and cheap. I often have this for tea!

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average rating is 3 out of 5

Being a bilingual family (French mother and British father,) living in France I thought your article was extremely interesting . Have you research on bilingualism ? It seems that when the mother is British and the father French and they both live in France their children seem to be more bilingual than when the mother is French and the father is British . This is what we called mother tongue , isn't it ?

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average rating is 3 out of 5

Such an interesting article!

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