The Art of Losing by French author Alice Zeniter, translated by Irishman Frank Wynne, has won the 2022 Dublin Literary Award, worth €100,000, the world’s largest prize for a single novel published in English.
Zeniter receives €75,000 and Wynne receives €25,000. Wynne won previously in 2002, as translator of Atomised by Michel Houellebecq, which enabled him to become a full-time translator.
The winners were announced by Alison Gilliland, Lord Mayor and patron of the award, and presented by Owen Keegan, chief executive of Dublin City Council, at the International Literature Festival Dublin literary village in Merrion Square Park.
Gilliland said: “With its themes of colonisation and immigration, The Art of Losing, which follows three generations of an Algerian family from the 1950s to the present day, highlights how literature can increase our understanding of the world.”
Nominated by Bibliothèque publique d’information, in the Pompidou Centre, Paris, the winning novel was chosen from a shortlist of six novels by writers from Ireland, Nigeria, New Zealand, France and Canada. The longlist of 79 titles was nominated by 94 libraries from 40 countries across Africa, Europe, Asia, the US, Canada, South America, Australia and New Zealand.
Zeniter said: “When I was writing the Art of Losing, I was almost certain that it was a niche novel. This book’s life, even five years after its release, keeps surprising me. I am really happy and thrilled that the Dublin Literary Award shows me today that this story can be shared with readers from different countries, readers who grew up outside the French post-colonial Empire. Readers that, maybe, had never thought about Algeria before opening the book. How crazy is that?”
Wynne said: “In a very real sense, I owe my career as a literary translator to the Dublin Literary Award, a prize I cherish because it makes no distinction between English and translated fiction, treating authors and translators as co-weavers of the endless braid of literature.”
The 2022 judging panel, which was led by Prof Chris Morash of Trinity College Dublin, and includes Emmanuel Dandaura, Sinéad Moriarty, Clíona Ní Riordáin, Alvin Pang and Victoria White, commented: “The Art of Losing offers insights at every scale, from the national and the individual, about the fluid nature of identity; how our relations to place and to each other situate and perhaps free us.”