The pseudonymous Italian author of the bestselling Neapolitan Novels has reached the shortlist of the 2016 Man Booker International Prize, which celebrates global fiction in English translation.
Elena Ferrante, whose statement that "books, once they are written, have no need of their authors" has not prevented endless speculation as to her identity, is shortlisted for The Story of the Lost Child, the final instalment of her compelling tetralogy which follows Elena and Lila, two girls from a poor neighbourhood of Naples, across six decades. The series has recently begun development for a TV series; although she was nominated for Italy's prestigious Strega prize, this would be the first major international prize that Ferrante, the author of seven novels, has won.
The prize awards £50,000, to be divided equally between author and translator. Ann Goldstein, Elena Ferrante's translator, hailed the recognition the prize awards to translators. "Translation is notoriously badly paid, and translators are notoriously nearly anonymous: their name rarely appears on the book jacket, and is often left out of the review, even one that quotes freely from the book.
"Translation prizes are important, and welcome, because they recognise the work of someone whose role in a book is crucial but who is often not recognised. But prizes are also important because they remind readers – the public – that the book they are reading has come to them from the author through the work of a medium: the translator."
The judges are Tonkin, Tahmima Anam, David Bellos, Daniel Medin and Ruth Padel; the winner will be announced at the Victoria and Albert Museum on May 16.
The 2016 Man Booker International Prize Shortlist
A General Theory of Oblivion (Harvill Secker) by José Eduardo Agualusa (Angola), translated by Daniel Hahn
The Story of the Lost Child (Europa Editions) by Elena Ferrante (Italy), translated by Ann Goldstein
The Vegetarian (Portobello Books) by Han Kang (South Korea), translated by Deborah Smith
A Strangeness in My Mind (Faber & Faber) by Orhan Pamuk (Turkey), translated by Ekin Oklap
A Whole Life (Picador) by Robert Seethaler (Austria), translated by Charlotte Collins
The Four Books (Chatto & Windus) by Yan Lianke (China), translated by Carlos Rojas