• World
  • May 25

Georgi Gospodinov’s ‘Time Shelter’ wins International Booker Prize

Bulgarian writer Georgi Gospodinov and translator Angela Rodel won the International Booker Prize for ‘Time Shelter’, a darkly comic novel about the dangerous appeal of nostalgia. 

‘Time Shelter’ becomes the first novel originally published in Bulgarian to win the Prize.

International Booker Prize

• The International Booker Prize, formerly known as the Man Booker International Prize, has been awarded since 2005.

• It is a sister prize to the Booker Prize, awarded to a novel written in English.

• It was initially a biennial prize for a body of work, and there was no stipulation that the work should be written in a language other than English. Early winners of the Man Booker International Prize therefore include Alice Munro, Lydia Davis and Philip Roth, as well as Ismail Kadare and Laszlo Krasznahorkai. 

• In 2015, the rules of the original Booker Prize expanded to allow writers of any nationality to enter — as long as their books were written in English and published in the UK — the International Prize evolved to become the mirror image of the English-language prize.

• Since then it has been awarded annually for a single book, written in another language and translated into English.

• The vital work of translators is celebrated, with the £50,000 prize money divided equally between the author and translator. Each shortlisted author and translator also receives £2,500.

• Novels and collections of short stories are both eligible.

• Last year the International Booker Prize was awarded to the Hindi novel ‘Tomb of Sand’ by Indian author Geetanjali Shree, and translated by Daisy Rockwell.

What is ‘Time Shelter’ about?

• A “clinic for the past” offers a promising treatment for Alzheimer’s sufferers: each floor reproduces a decade in minute detail, transporting patients back in time. 

• An unnamed narrator is tasked with collecting the flotsam and jetsam of the past, from 1960s furniture and 1940s shirt buttons to scents, and even afternoon light. But as the rooms become more convincing, an increasing number of healthy people seek out the clinic as a ‘time shelter’, hoping to escape the horrors of modern life - a development that results in an unexpected conundrum when the past begins to invade the present. 

Who is Georgi Gospodinov?

• Georgi Gospodinov was born in Yambol, Bulgaria in 1968.

• Gospodinov is the most internationally acclaimed modern Bulgarian author.

• His works have been translated to acclaim in 25 languages. His novels, poems, essays, screenplays and graphic novels have established him as one of the leading voices of European literature. 

• ‘Time Shelter’ is his third novel to be published in English. The Italian edition of the book won the prestigious Premio Strega Europeo prize last year.

• His short story ‘Blind Vaysha’ was adapted into a short animation film that was nominated for an Oscar in 2017.

• Translator Angela Rodel is originally from the US state of Minnesota but lives and works in Bulgaria. Her poetry and prose translations have been published across literary magazines and anthologies. In 2014, she was granted Bulgarian citizenship for her work and contribution to Bulgarian culture.

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