Now in its third year, the award was won by Milan Kundera and Peter Kussi for Immortality in 1991, and Simon Leys and Patrica Clancy for The Death of Napoleon in 1992. The award was established both to recognise the vitality of today's translated literature and to honour the fertilising influence of translations on the history of English literature. Many of the oldest, richest and most familiar books in our literature - the Bible, for instance - are translations. The prize also works on the premise that the amazing thing about translations is not how much gets lost, but how much gets across. The Argentine writer Jorge Luis Borges once remarked of one of his stories that 'the original was unfaithful to the translation'.
The six books on the shortlist come from Spain, Germany, Albania, Czechoslovakia, Portugal and Israel. One of them - The Palace of Dreams by Ismail Kadare - arrived in English from Serbo-Croat via French. In the course of the year, 40 books were entered from 20 countries, a decline from the previous year's entry of 52 books from 21 countries. Of the 40 books entered this year, eight were by women.
The judges of this year's award were: Penelope Fitzgerald, Gabriel Josipovici, Jonathan Keates, Anthony Lane, Doris Lessing, Trevor McDonald, Blake Morrison, Jill Neville, Natasha Walter, Tim Waterstone, Michael Wood and Robert Winder.
Below, we feature interviews with the translators of the books on the shortlist, one of whom, Ralph Manheim, the translator of Gunter Grass's novel, died last September. Apart from other works by Grass (such as The Tin Drum, 1962) Manheim also translated Freud, Mann, Hesse, Heideggger, Brecht, Celine and Hitler (Mein Kampf, 1943).