Bellos honored with international award for translation

David Bellos, Princeton professor of French and comparative literature, has won the Man Booker International Prize for Translation.

He is being honored for his translations of works by Albanian poet and novelist Ismail Kadaré, selected earlier this month to receive the first Man Booker International Prize. The £60,000 prize seeks to recognize a living author who has contributed significantly to world literature.

In keeping with the international focus of the prize, the Man Group and the Booker Prize Foundation established an additional prize of £15,000 (about $27,000) to be awarded if the winning author is published in English translation.

Kadaré has chosen Bellos to receive the translation prize, and both will be honored during a ceremony June 27 in Edinburgh, Scotland.

"During the first stages of judging for the Man Booker International Prize we, the judges, became increasingly aware of the huge role translators play in making first-rate fiction accessible to a global audience," said John Carey, chair of the judges for the prize.

Kadaré first won fame as a poet, although he is much better known internationally for his prose novels. His first novel, "The General of the Dead Army," was published in 1963. His works are published in France by Éditions Fayard, and they comprise novels, stories, story collections, a collection of verse and a play. The first 11 volumes of his "Complete Works" are now in print in Albanian and French.

Bellos, who coordinated a visit by Kadaré to Princeton's campus last December, is one of several English translators of the author's work. He has translated four of his novels: "The File on H" (1997); "The Pyramid" (1996); "Spring Flowers, Spring Frost" (2002); and "The Successor" (forthcoming this fall). The fifth, "Agamemnon's Daughter," will be completed later this year.

Bellos joined the Princeton faculty in 1997 after teaching at the universities of Oxford, Edinburgh, Southampton and Manchester. He has published several books on French writer Honoré de Balzac as well as many articles on the history of fiction and the book market in 19th-century France.

He also has published works on modern French writer Georges Perec, first as his principal English translator and then as the author of the first literary biography on him, "Georges Perec: A Life in Words," which was awarded the Prix Goncourt de la Biographie in 1994. He is the author of a biographical study of the French filmmaker Jacques Tati, and he currently is working on a biography of the French novelist and diplomat Romain Gary. Bellos holds the rank of Chevalier dans l'Ordre des Palmes Académiques bestowed by the French government.