Elena Ferrante tells us about her belief that ‘books, once they are written, have no need of their authors’, and translator Ann Goldstein reveals what she would you say to someone pursuing the identity of Elena Ferrante. This is the sixth in our series of Man Booker International Prize 2016 series of longlisted author and translator interviews.
Author Han Kang tells us how longlisted novel The Vegetarian was inspired by a phrase from the posthumous diaries of Yi Sang: 'I think that human beings are plants', and translator Deborah Smith describes the reaction from South Korea upon hearing the news.
So, with the Man Booker International Prize fast approaching (the shortlist is announced on 14 April), what stage have the judges of the Man Booker itself reached? One of their number, Jon Day, admitted in a recent article that he is now at the 2ft 8in stage – that is the height of his daughter and also of the 29 novels he's read so far, with, gulp, approximately another 11 feet still to go (last year's judges hit the 150 novels mark). Despite the workload ahead, Day, an academic at King's College, London, nevertheless confessed that ‘As I read I’m struck by a strange form of sadness: even reading at this rate – getting through maybe three hundred books per year – I’d only be able to read 15,000 novels in the rest of my lifetime. That’s less than a tenth of the total number of books published in the UK in an average year.’ What lessens his twinge of melancholy though is the prospect that among this year's Man Booker tranche will be the book or books that does what Nabokov described: the novel that twitches ‘the seat of artistic delight’ that sits ‘between the shoulder blades. That little shiver behind is quite certainly the highest form of emotion that humanity has attained when evolving pure art and pure science. Let us worship the spine and its tingle.’
In the third of our Man Booker International Prize 2016 series of longlisted author and translator interviews, we speak to Eka Kurniawan and Labodalih Sembiring.
In the second of our Man Booker International Prize 2016 series of longlisted author and translator interviews, we speak to Aki Ollikainen, Emily Jeremiah and Fleur Jeremiah.
Anita Brookner, who died this week, was famously restrained when discussing her work. She did though once give an insight into the character of Edith Hope, the protagonist of her 1984 Booker Prize (as it then was) winner. In the novel Edith, in self-imposed exile in a Swiss hotel, has the choice of two suitors. As Brookner told an interviewer for The Paris Review, Edith ‘nearly marries; she balks at the last minute and decides to stay in a hopeless relationship with a married man’. It was a choice that Brookner seemed to hold against her own creation. ‘As I wrote it I felt very sorry for her and at the same time very angry: She should have married one of them – they were interchangeable anyway – and at least gained some worldly success, some social respectability. I have a good mind to let her do it in some other novel and see how she will cope!’
Dr Anita Brookner was born in London on 16 July 1928. Her first novel, A Start in Life, was published in 1981. Hotel du Lac, her fourth novel, won the Booker Prize for Fiction in 1984. No one was more astonished than Anita Brookner herself as she had backed her fellow shortlistee J.G Ballard to win. Hotel du Lac was adapted for television in 1986 by Christopher Hampton and went on to be nominated for nine BAFTA awards.
The longlist for the new-look Man Booker International Prize has been announced in a flurry of firsts.