Wed, May 13, 2015 - Page 5 News List

Translation of eco-fantasy book wins French island prize

By Dan Bloom  /  Contributing reporter

A literary nod to a Taiwanese novelist has made waves from a small French island.

Ushant, off the coast of France, awarded its Island Fiction Prize — the Salon d’Ouessant’s International Island Literature Fiction Award for 2015 — to the French translation of a novel by Taiwanese writer Wu Ming-yi (吳明益), author of The Man With Compound Eyes (複眼人).

The novel, an eco-fantasy about the near future in Taiwan, was translated into French by Gwennael Gaffric after being commissioned by Stock, a Paris publishing firm.

According to Gray Tan (譚光磊), Wu’s literary agent in Taipei, the French award is another feather in Wu’s cap, following separate English translations published in Britain and the US.

Gaffric’s translation was published in France last year, titled L’homme aux Yeux a Facettes in French, Tan said.

When asked how sales of the French translation were doing, Gaffric said in an e-mail that he was not sure, since Stock does not release sales figures to the public.

However, he said the prize was both a surprise and a good thing for the book’s reception in France.

Ushant is a small French island off the coast of Brittany in France. While the population in the winter months is about 1,000, in the summer, the island comes alive with tourists arriving by ferry or plane, with a boat ride to Brest, France, taking about two hours.

Ten years ago, a literary group on the island began awarding prizes for novels, poetry, photography books and nonfiction about islands and island nations around the world.

When asked how he felt about the winning the French award, Wu said was honored and touched that the jury recognized his novel and Gaffric’s translation, adding: “I hope that someday all people who live on islands, large and small, will have a chance to hear the stories of other island dwellers.”

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