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Pride and Prejudice and the Man Booker

Pride and Prejudice and the Man Booker

David Grossman's Man Booker International Prize win has been warmly greeted in his native Israel, well, mostly. The Times of Israel noted dryly that the Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, congratulated Grossman ‘In a one-sentence press release by the Prime Minister’s Office, some 24 hours after the announcement.’ Grossman has been no fan of Netanyahu and his attitude towards the Palestinians and so would not have been surprised at either the haiku-like brevity or the lack of expansiveness of the prime ministerial response: the prize ‘reveals [Grossman’s] abilities as an author and his literary works’. Pithy stuff, thanks for that.


Grossman and his translator Jessica Cohen did a joint interview after their Man Booker International win and Grossman pointed out that his title, A Horse Walks into a Bar, does not in fact set up a joke in Hebrew in the way it does in English: ‘the most famous joke, about ‘the horse walks into a bar’ does not exist in Hebrew. The barman asks him, ‘Hey, why the long face?’ In Hebrew, we just don’t have this expression. ‘Long face’ has nothing to do with a horse.’ So while that's no joke he did come up with another. Asked who first introduced him to Cohen, Grossman replied: ‘God.’


Only a week after David Grossman was awarded the Man Booker International one of last year's shortlistees, the Angolan novelist José Eduardo Agualusa, has just picked up the €100,000 Dublin International Literary Award – the old IMPAC Prize – for A General Theory of Oblivion. Agualusa's helpmeet, the British translator Daniel Hahn, will receive €25,000 of the prize money and intends to use half of it to launch the £2,000 Translators Association first translation prize. The rest he's going to spend on plumbing: ‘You have no idea how excited I am that I will have central heating’, he said. Hahn recalled that when he and Agualusa first worked together, ‘I would visit him and we worked very closely, because it is important to reassure the writer that the translator is not a lunatic or idiot.’ It worked – he has now translated five of Agualusa's books.


Another prize winner is Margaret Atwood – as if she needs any more awards. She has already won the Franz Kafka Prize this year and can now add Germany's top literary gong to her buckling mantelpiece. Atwood will be presented with the €25,000 Peace Prize of the German Book Trade on October 15, 2017 at the Frankfurt Book Fair for her ‘political intuition and clairvoyance when it comes to dangerous underlying trends and currents’.