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Jul 19 2013, 09:13 AM
Jul 19 2013, 07:36 AM
Do authors have to have been translated into English or another European language? I mean it must be very difficult to judge a book written in an Asian or African language?
I believe they commission translations where there aren't any existing.
That's what happened with Mo Yan, for instance, though several of his books were already available in Swedish. Plus the members of the Academy collectively speak more than a dozen languages, including Chinese. I think there was an intervew with Academy member Per Wästberg about this somewhere, but I can't find it right now.

I'm not sure how often that's been used, though; pretty much every winner of the last 20 years has been easily available in either Swedish, French, or English. Peter Englund comments here that "I wish more members of the Academy had time to translate candidates themselves. It gives you an unbeatable perspective on the author's style, and also a great platform to judge translations into other languages."

So basically, there's no rule that says they have to have been translated into another language. In practice, though, they usually already are.

And thanks, Suz!

EDIT: Here's the Wästberg article, in response to the usual US butthurt.
We master thirteen languages in the Academy but when we suspect a genius hidden in an unknown language we call on translators and oath-sworn experts to give us generous samples of that writer.

We go for an individual’s life’s work regardless of nation, gender, or religion. We could, if need be, give it to Portugal or the US five times in a row, or to essayists, historians, or children’s book writers.
Edited by Bjorn, Jul 19 2013, 10:11 AM.
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Nobel Prize 2013 · General discussion