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European Literature Prize to Marie NDiaye

In an earlier post about the European Literature Prize, I conflated the awards ceremony with the announcement of the winner, and thought we’d have to wait until September to find out which book was selected. Thankfully, I was totally wrong, and received this announcement this morning:

The novel Drie sterke vrouwen by Marie NDiaye, translated from the French by Jeanne Holierhoek, has been selected as the winner of the European Literature Prize. The prize goes to both the author and the translator of the best European novel to appear in Dutch translation in 2010. The author will receive the sum of €10,000, the translator € 2,500. This a new prize, awarded this year for the first time.

The aim of the initiators of the award is to draw attention to the rich variety of literary translations of contemporary European novels. The prize will be presented on Saturday 3 September during Manuscripta in Amsterdam.

The jury on Drie sterke vrouwen by Marie NDiaye, and on Jeanne Holierhoek’s translation:

“In this penetrating triptych, set in both France and Senegal, NDiaye succeeds in blending stylistic complexity with succinctness and simplicity. She gives the ancient themes of repression and exploitation a human face, an intense profundity and a caustic beauty. In recreating her style, translator Jeanne Holierhoek displays great freedom, syntactical flexibility, a rich vocabulary and unobtrusive virtuosity. The result is a translation no less melodious than the original.”

The only book of NDiaye’s currently available in English translation is Rosie Carpe, which was translated from the French by Tasmin Black, and published by the University of Nebraska.

Trois Femmes Puissantes / Drie sterke vrouwen won the Goncourt in 2009, so hopefully someone is working on it . . . Here’s the (somewhat muddled) description from the French Book News site:

Trois femmes puissantes [Three Strong Women] is the book beneath the French media’s spotlight this rentrée. Three, tenuously linked narratives. At their heart, three women who say no. Forty year-old Norah arrives at the home of her father in Africa. An egocentric tyrant, he has now become silent and bulimic, and spends his nights perched in a tree in the courtyard. Why did he ask her to come? The answer, Norah discovers, is worse than she could have ever imagined. Fanta, who used to teach French in Dakar, had to follow her partner, Rudy, to France. Here, Rudy proves incapable of providing her with the rich and joyful life she deserves. He remains under the morbid influence of his mother, who dedicates her life to convincing her entourage of the existence of angels. Destabilised, Rudy wanders through an angry reality, while Fanta, by his side, is a rock. Khady Demba is a young African widow. Penniless, she tries to find her distant cousin, Fanta, in France. The long journey of emigration she pursues will be punctuated with unspeakable suffering.

And here’s an article in English about NDiaye winning the Goncourt.



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