Are writers whose works have not been translated into English condemned to literary oblivion? This is the debate that is exercising litbloggers all across cyberdom ever since Ismail Kadare won the Man Booker International Prize last fortnight. The Albanian, whose works stand doubly translated, first from his native Albanian to French and then from French into English, pipped many a literary giant—across 13 countries—to bag the £60,000 prize, awarded to one writer for a body of fiction. Encouragingly, it also announced an additional prize for the translator. We've had a Booker winner or two, will we ever have someone making it to its international variant? A Mahasweta Devi maybe. But that's only if she settles for a Man Booker International. Word is, she wants nothing less than the Nobel.
Finally, some advice. BBC World Affairs Editor John Simpson, in his new book News From No Man's Land—Reporting the World, quotes legendary foreign editor Louis Heren as saying, "Writing a column is like having a good shit." We agree, only as long as it doesn't turn into verbal diarrhoea.