Culturally Diverse, Translated Books: Marsh Award Shortlist

Culturally Diverse, Translated Books: Marsh Award Shortlist

The 2013 shortlist for the Marsh award celebrates the translators making foreign works accessible to English-speaking children

The most read book in the French language, The Little Prince, has been retranslated for a new generation by Ros and Chloe Schwartz

Five translated books for children have been shortlisted for the Marsh award, a prize which celebrates the high quality of translated fiction for young people.

Each of the novels selected was originally published in a foreign language, but have since been translated into English, allowing children in the UK the chance to read about a wider range of social and cultural subjects.

Stories included on the shortlist range from the adventurous journey of a boy travelling from Afghanistan to Italy in search of safety, to the emotional tale of twins who were separated at birth in 1930s Calcutta, India.

At the present, less than 3% of books published for children and young adults come from the non-English speaking world and the prize seeks to encourage translated fiction in the hope that it can open children's eyes to new worlds and new perspectives.

The 2013 shortlist includes Howard Curtis's translation of In the Sea by Fabio Geda, an international bestseller based on a true story about a penniless and homeless 10-year old boy, Enaiat, who seeks salvation in the west after his mother abandons him. Enaint, alone and scared, struggles in Italy where he is not familiar with the language.

The English-Speaking Union, the organisers of the award, believe that language should not be a barrier against communication and emphasise how important translated fiction can be for children to explore new ideas and meanings in an ever more culturally diverse Britain.

Other books honoured on the shortlist include Fatima Sharafeddini's translation of My Own Special Way by Mithaa Alkhayyat, a picture book based on a young Muslim girl's wish to grow up so she can wear a headscarf like the rest of the women in her family, and the German novel, Themba by Lutz van Dijk, translated by Karin Chubb, which focuses on the issue of Aids in South Africa.

The judges for the award include author Wendy Cooling, founder of Bookstart; Sian Williams, founder of the Children's Bookshow and Gillian Lathey, director of the National Centre for Research in Children's Literature.

The judges praised the novels shortlisted, calling Lucia Graves's translation of The Midnight Palace by Carlos Ruiz Zafron "a powerfully told story for older readers, with a strong sense of time and place", while they also praised Ros and Chloe's Schwartz's retranslation of The Little Prince by Antoine de St-Exupery. The novella, which is the most read and translated book in the French language, was described as "a classic, beautifully retranslated which retains all the ineffable charm of the original."

The Marsh Award has been running since 1996, awarding translators every two years. The 2013 winning translator will receive a prize of PS2,000 at a ceremony to be held in London on 23 January.

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