'Reconfiguration' of Man Booker International Prize

'Reconfiguration' of Man Booker International Prize

The Man Booker International Prize and the Independent Foreign Fiction Prize are to merge to create one annual award for a work of literary fiction translated into English.

Jonathan Taylor, chair of the Man Booker Foundation, said at a press conference this morning (7th July) that the Man Booker International Prize used to lose momentum in the years it was not awarded, as it was given every two years. He also said it was difficult to understand, being awarded for a body of work rather than an individual title.

The new prize - retaining the Man Booker International Prize name - will see the £50,000 award money shared equally between the author and translator. Each of the shortlisted authors and translators will also get £1,000, meaning the winning author and translator will share a prize pot of £52,000. The total prize fund is therefore £62,000. Fiammetta Rocco, administrator of the Man Booker International Prize, said the new prize was "the most generous prize for a work of translated literature" to her knowledge.

The award will be given for the first time in May 2016. Boyd Tonkin of the Independent will chair the judges of the 2016 Man Booker International, and will become a member of the Booker Prize Foundation Advisory Committee after serving his term as chair.

The Man Booker International, launched in 2005, has up until now been a £60,000 prize awarded every two years to a living author for a body of work representing an achievement in fiction on the world stage. In 2015 the prize was given to Hungarian writer László Krasznahorkai. The prize has previously been awarded to Lydia Davis (2013), Philip Roth (2011), Alice Munro (2009), Chinua Achebe (2007) and Ismail Kadare (2005).

The Independent Foreign Fiction Prize has been awarded for a single book in translation, with the £10,000 award shared between the author of the book and its translator. It has been running for 25 years. This year's winner was Jenny Erpenbeck's The End of Days (Portobello Books), translated by Susan Bernofsky. The Independent Foreign Fiction Prize is managed by reading charity Book Trust, with the prize money and associated costs supported using public funding by Arts Council England. The prize is also supported by the Independent and Champagne Taittinger.

The new prize will follow the terms of the Independent-backed award, with no quotas for publishers regarding submission of books, and both novels and short stories will be eligible.

Rocco said in the 10 years the Man Booker International Prize had been running, the award organisers had seen an increase in small publishers concentrating on translated fiction.

"What we are hoping is that this prize is going to encourage publishers to get more work translated and get more work published in Britain," she said.

The Man Booker Prize said that only 3% of the titles published each year in the UK and America are translations from a foreign language.

Taylor said: "One of the persistent observations of Man Booker International Prize judges has been that a substantial body of important literary fiction has not been translated into English. We very much hope that this reconfiguration of the prize will encourage a greater interest and investment in translation."

The Man Booker International Prize judges will select a longlist of 12 or 13 books in March 2016, followed by a shortlist of six in April, with the winner announced the following month. For the 2016 prize, books published in English in translation by UK publishers between 1st January 2015 and 30th April 2016 will be eligible. In subsequent years the period of publication will be from 1st May to 30th April the following year.