Han Kang and Deborah Smith win the Booker

This year’s Man Booker International Prize went to Han Kang’s novel “The Vegetarian”, translated by Deborah Smith.

While I haven’t read the novel, yet, I had the pleasure of meeting Deborah Smith at this year’s London Book Fair. I was very impressed by her comments on a panel on translations from “smaller” languages. I particularly liked how she looked at the questions from different angles, never gave in to sweeping statements, and expressed artistic and political concerns in a manner that showed a lot of knowledge and consideration for different perspectives.

So I would like to use this post to draw your attention to the Tilted Axis Press, the publishing house Deborah Smith founded, “a not-for-profit press on a mission to shake up contemporary international literature” (link to the website). I’m quoting here from their mission statement and hope it will spark your interest:

“Tilted Axis publishes the books that might not otherwise make it into English, for the very reasons that make them exciting to us – artistic originality, radical vision, the sense that here is something new. Tilting the axis of world literature from the centre to the margins allows us to challenge that very division. These margins are spaces of compelling innovation, where multiple traditions spark new forms and translation plays a crucial role. As part of carving out a new direction in the publishing industry, Tilted Axis is also dedicated to improving access. We’re proud to pay our translators the proper rate, and to operate without unpaid interns.”

And, of course, if you would like to read more about the Man Booker International Prize, see e.g.

  • this more general article in the Guardian: link
  • a short piece with a focus on translation (also in the Guardian): link
  • a podcast with the author Han Kang (link)