March 21, 2023

‘The Stolen Bicycle’ by Wu Ming-Yi is the first book from Taiwan to be nominated for the prestigious U.K. literary award. Originated in 2005, the Man Booker International Prize had since evolved into a translation prize. From 2016, the prize became an annual award for a single work of fiction, translated into English and published in the UK. The £50,000 ($70,000) prize is divided equally between the author and the translator.

At first listing Wu as being from “Taiwan”, the Man Booker Prize website later changed his nationality to “Taiwan, China”, after Beijing exerted pressure on the organizers, according to “The Guardian.” The move had aroused criticisms on social media as well as the author’s own protest.

The organizers later reversed the nationality decision and made the following statement:

“Following correspondence with stakeholders and additional guidance on the appropriate terminology from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, changes have been made to the Man Booker International Prize materials.

The country/territory of longlisted authors and translators appears, and Wu Ming-Yi is listed as ‘Taiwan’.

The prize is not about defining nationality; all global citizens are eligible, provided they are published in translation in the UK.”

One of 13 international titles on the longlist, “The Stolen Bicycle” is translated by Canadian Darryl Sterk, originally from Edmonton, Alberta. Sterk graduated from the University of Toronto’s East Asian Studies’ PhD program in 2009 and is currently associate professor of translation and interpretation at National Taiwan University in Taipei.

A multi-talented writer, Wu is an academic, environmental activist, photographer and artist. “The Stolen Bicycle” is about the protagonist’s search for a lost bicycle that belonged to his father who mysteriously disappeared years ago. His search brought him new revelations about his family history as well as that of Taiwan during the period of Japanese occupation and WWII.

The shortlist of six will be announced April 12, and winner on May 22. 

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