Merger Brings Together Two Big Translated-literature Awards

England’s two biggest translated-fiction prizes are collapsing into one:

mbi2016In a move that that organizers call the “evolution” of the Man Booker International — which previously was awarded on odd years for an author’s body of work, like the Nobel — it will combine with the Independent Foreign Fiction Prize (IFFP) and become one single translated-fiction prize. From the press release:

The 2015 prize having been given it is now the Man Booker International Prize’s turn to evolve. From 2016 the prize will come into line with its English-language parent and close the circle. Just as the Man Booker is now awarded to a single book written in English anywhere in the world and published in Great Britain so the new Man Booker International Prize will follow the same format for a book written in a foreign language and translated into English.

Basically, it seems, it becomes the IFFP with a larger purse (£50,000) and more visibility, and the old Man Booker International goes away. IFFP’s Boyd Tonkin will chair the new prize in 2016, and, as with the old IFFP and MBI, the purse will be shared. With this new prize, it will be shared out equally between author and translator.

The £2,000 prize for each title on the shortlist will also be split equally between translator and author.

The new Man Booker International will, according to the news release, announce its longlist each March, a shortlist in April, and a winner in May. There is currently no restriction on the number of submissions per publisher, “but this will be kept under review and may change in future years.”

The impetus behind the merger, Booker organizers write, is to encourage “an ecology of translation”:

The excitement of finding a writer of the quality of, say, Krasznahorkai and Kadaré (the only two MBI winners not to write in English) is immeasurable and the new MBI seeks not just to reward individual authors but to encourage an ecology of translation in which publishers are emboldened to cast their nets outside the familiar waters of English-language fiction where there are rare and fabulous creatures who should be brought in. Of course several publishers have for some time been working with foreign writers but they are in the minority. The MBI hopes to push this innovation to the tipping point and beyond so that what is currently non-standard becomes the norm.

Although it sounds brilliant, it’s a shame to lose a translated-fiction prize when there are so few.

The 2016 prize will be open for entries from tomorrow, July 9. The rules and entry form can be found online.