Bulgarian writer Georgi Gospodinov and translator Angela Rodel won the Booker International Prize on Tuesday for their novel “Asylum of Time,” a first for a book in Bulgarian.
The prestigious prize recognizes works of fiction from around the world that have been translated into English, and the £50,000 ($62,000) award is split equally between the author and the translator.
The winning novel focuses on a “clinic from the past” that offers an experimental treatment for Alzheimer’s.
To stimulate patients’ memories, it recreates the atmosphere of past decades down to the smallest detail.
But over time, healthy people begin to come to the clinic, escaping the horrors of modern life.
“It is a novel that invites reflection and vigilance as much as it moves us, because the language, sensitive and precise, manages to depict in a Proustian vein the extreme fragility of the past,” Franco-Moroccan writer and judges. Council President Leila Slimani said:
Born in 1968, novelist and poet Gospodinov is the most internationally recognized contemporary Bulgarian writer. His works have been translated into 25 languages.
Speaking about the book’s nomination, Gospodinov said that “this encourages writers not only from my country, but also from the Balkans, who often feel outside the sphere of English-language attention.”
Rodel is originally from Minnesota, USA, but lives and works in Bulgaria. His poetry and prose translations have been published in literary journals and anthologies.
In 2014, he was granted Bulgarian citizenship for his work and contribution to Bulgarian culture.
“We should not only recognize the translators, but also put them on an equal footing with the authors,” Rodel told reporters.
“It was really trying to decide with Georgi how we were going to translate not only the text, but also the atmosphere, the subtext… all the socialist ghosts that haunted the text itself.”
Gospodinov agreed that “Translating books of this kind was not at all easy, because the book deals with different decades of the 20th century and different languages that we have in this decade.”
Last year, the Booker International Prize was awarded to the Indian novel “Grave of Sand” by Indian writer Geetanjali Sri, which was translated by Daisy Rockwell.
(Except for the headline, this story was not edited by NDTV staff and was published from a syndicated feed.)