Professor Angie Hobbs named judge on the Man Booker International prize
Professor Angie Hobbs from our Department of Philosophy has been chosen as one of five judges on the 2019 Man Booker International Prize, one of the most prestigious literary prizes in the world.
She joins historian and broadcaster Bettany Hughes, writer and translator Maureen Freely, novelist and satirist Elnathan John, and essayist and novelist Pankaj Mishra on the panel.
Set up in 1969, the Man Booker Prize is the leading literary award in the English speaking world, bringing recognition, reward and readership to outstanding contemporary fiction for five decades. The Man Booker International Prize was established in 2005 to recognise and reward the finest works of authors from all over the world that have been translated into English and published in the UK. Underlining the importance of translation, the £50,000 prize is divided equally between the author and the translator. The 2019 judging panel will be looking for the best work of translated fiction, selected from entries published in the UK and Ireland between 1 May 2018 and 30 April 2019.
Professor Angie Hobbs’ research specialises in ancient philosophy and literature, ethics and political theory. She has many published works in these areas and contributes regularly to radio, TV and other media. She has spoken at the World Economic Forum at Davos, the Houses of Parliament, the Scottish Parliament and Westminster Abbey. She is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts, Honorary Patron of the Philosophy Foundation and Patron of the Philosophy in Education Project.
Angie is thrilled to have been chosen - we caught up with her to find out more.
Congratulations on being selected. How did the opportunity come about?
I actually found out in February that I’d been selected, so had to keep quiet about it until now. I am honoured and delighted to have this opportunity and I think it fits in perfectly with our University's international outlook and #WeAreInternational campaign which promotes international collaboration and scholarship across the world.
Normally, an academic is featured on the judging panel for Man Booker International, so luckily this time they chose me. I think I was chosen for a number of reasons - it’s clear from interviews such as Desert Island Discs, Private Passions and the Reading Lists, that I’m a very keen reader and that I love reading international fiction in translation. I’m also a passionate internationalist, which is obviously really important for this prize. Lastly, the role of the translator in Man Booker International is hugely important - they win half the prize, so I’m hoping my knowledge and experience as a regular translator of Ancient Greek and Latin texts into English will be helpful..
How much reading does it entail?
We don't yet know precisely how many, but it's safe to say that I will be reading a great many books between October and May, so that's my evenings and weekends sorted.
Of course I knew it would be a big commitment, but I think I can fit it in on top of my nine to five role at the University. Normally, my public understanding work and academic research spills over into my theoretically ‘free’ time, but I’ve got four academic papers coming out this year and I’ve also recently done a lot of public engagement activities in the way of filming for various TV series that will come out next year, so hopefully this will free up time for reading. My daughter will also be leaving to go to university, so there will be less cooking and cleaning to do and perhaps it’ll help me cope with empty nest syndrome!
What are you currently reading and what would you recommend in terms of literature in translation?
I’m on the last few pages of War and Peace at the moment, which has been a magnificent read. You can see what I’d recommend in my Reading Lists interview, where I talk about my love for works in translation including Love in the Time of Cholera by Colombian writer Gabriel Garcia Márquez, Labyrinths by Argentinian author Jorge Luis Borges and My Brilliant Friend by Italian novelist Elena Ferrante.
What are you most looking forward to about the experience?
Reading wonderful books from all over the world and discussing them with a really interesting panel of individuals who will give me new perspectives and insight.
I also think it will be useful for my day job, as a researcher in the ethics of flourishing. Reading fiction is a really important part of learning about ethics - it enriches your understanding of people’s experiences and dilemmas.
Have you ever thought about writing fiction?
As a hobby I write short stories set in the modern day on a wide range of subjects They’re mostly glimpses into pivotal moments in life. I’ve never had the courage to try to get any of them published, but maybe one day.
Apart from Man Booker, what upcoming projects are you excited about?
As I mentioned before, I’m going to be featured in about six programmes in a new Greek TV series on ancient Greek Philosophy. I’ve also been working on the Ladybird Expert Guide to Plato’s Republic, which has been a huge challenge, given the highly limited number of characters per page.
Angie Hobbs was one of 16 women colleagues chosen for the Portrait of a Woman photography project, see her profile here.