The Man Booker International Prize Got A Makeover

by Crystal Paul

Translators and non-English language writers, get your pens ready. The Man Booker International Prize and the Independent Foreign Fiction prize are joining forces to create a bigger, better foreign fiction award for authors and translators, it was announced Tuesday. The Man Booker International award is one of the most prominent awards for fiction translated to English. Previously, the Man Booker International prize was awarded every two years based on an author’s entire body of work, but this new hybrid, mega-award will now be shared equally by the author and translator of a single work of fiction.

This change to an equal sharing of the award between the author and the translator is apparently pretty unique among foreign fiction awards, with the Independent Foreign Fiction prize being one of the few awards to specifically acknowledge the “importance of the translator in their ability to bridge the gap between languages and culture,” according to their website.

“There is nothing worse than being told such and such a novel is a great masterpiece in its original language and then trying to plough your way through a leaden, clumsy English version,” said Boyd Tonkin, a writer at The Independent who will be judging the 2016 Man Booker International award under the new changes.

But translators won’t just be getting a pat on the back: Among the new changes is also a bump in the award amount. The International Foreign Fiction award used to split a £10,000 award between translators and authors, but now, with the merging of the two awards, translators can look forward to splitting a £50,000 award with the writer. (The Man Booker International award used to offer an award of £37,500 exclusively to the author.)

Administrator of the Man Booker International Prize, Fiammetta Rocco, told The Bookseller that these changes will hopefully mean more foreign fiction being published: "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," said.

The changes will go into effect for the 2016 award.