(London) The novel Time Shelter by Bulgarian writer and poet Guéorgui Gospodinov won the International Booker Prize in London on Tuesday evening, a British prize which annually crowns the best novel translated into English.
In addition to the fame and prestige of the prize, author and translator Angela Rodel win a prize of £50,000 shared equally, a move that aims to highlight the essential work of translators.
Time Shelter has been translated into French, under the title Le Pays du Passé, published in 2021 by Gallimard.
The novel takes the reader to a “clinic of the past” for patients with Alzheimer’s disease. By painstakingly recreating the atmosphere of a decade, each floor of this establishment offers those who have lost their memories a trip down memory lane.
The clinic is experiencing such an influx of people who have all their senses, but want to escape the horrors of modern life, that the past comes to invade the present and a plot is hatched to stop time.
The president of the jury, the French-Moroccan writer Leïla Slimani, hailed a “brilliant novel”, “full of irony and melancholy”, “a profound work which addresses a very contemporary question: what is happening to us? when we lose our memories? »
The book “tells something about our relationship to the future,” she told reporters.
“The translator Angela Rodel brilliantly manages to restore” the “style” and the “language” of the author, “full of references and deeply free”, underlined Leïla Slimani.
“Prizes like the International Booker Prize change the status quo” which tends to limit uncommon languages to “local and exotic,” said Georgi Gospodinov, quoted in a press release. “Every language has the ability to tell the story of the world and the story of a particular person. »
For translator Angela Rodel, this prize comes “to challenge this short-sighted Anglo-centric idea and demonstrates that we have a moral responsibility to listen to voices outside our comfort zone”.
“You have to not only give recognition to the translators, but also put them on an equal footing with the author, it’s a creative process,” she told reporters.
The author, for his part, underlined the difficulty of translating such a work, because it addresses different decades of the 20th century and their language, “slang”, “a marker of an era”.
“It was about deciding with Guéorgui how we were going to translate not just the text, but to translate the atmosphere, the context, all these sorts of socialist ghosts that haunt the text,” Angela Rodel added.
Aged 55, Georgy Gospodinov is the most translated Bulgarian writer: his works have been translated into 25 languages.
The Italian newspaper La Repubblica described him as a “Proust from the East”. His work has made him a great name in contemporary European literature.
Last year, the International Booker Prize was awarded to Tomb of Sand, whose author Geetanjali Shree became the first Indian writer to win the prize.