Sam Leith

Spectator Books: the pleasures and perils of translation

Spectator Books: the pleasures and perils of translation
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In this week’s books podcast, we’re using the occasion of the Man Booker International Prize shortlist to talk about the pleasures and perils of literature in translation. I’m joined by Boyd Tonkin, a former chair of the International Booker and author of the forthcoming The 100 Best Novels In Translation, and Frank Wynne, whose translation of Virginie Despentes’s Vernon Subutex 1 appears on this year’s shortlist. They tell me how to really annoy Milan Kundera, about why the best author to translate is a dead author, how the UK fell into “the parochialism of large nations”, and how a translator saved Italo Calvino from himself. Do give it a listen.

For those inspired to start reading some literature from another language, incidentally, here’s that International Booker list in full.

• Virginie Despentes (France), Frank Wynne, Vernon Subutex 1 (MacLehose Press)

• Han Kang (South Korea), Deborah Smith, The White Book (Portobello Books)

• László Krasznahorkai (Hungary), John Batki, Ottilie Mulzet & George Szirtes, The World Goes On (Tuskar Rock Press)

• Antonio Muñoz Molina (Spain), Camilo A. Ramirez, Like a Fading Shadow (Tuskar Rock Press)

• Ahmed Saadawi (Iraq), Jonathan Wright, Frankenstein in Baghdad (Oneworld)

• Olga Tokarczuk (Poland), Jennifer Croft, Flights (Fitzcarraldo Editions)

And for more information on the International Man Booker, click here.

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