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PEN's Book Awards

So, every year, PEN Awards a bunch of books with a bunch of money in a bunch of different categories. Some of these categories are dedicated solely to works in translation (like the PEN Translation Prize, PEN Award for Poetry in Translation), and other longlists just happen to include translated books.

Since we cover translations exclusively, and publish them, exclusively, and work, on a regular basis with several of the judges awarded these prizes and the presses winning them (Open Letter struck out again this year, which, you know, it’s like they say, “never a bridesmaid”), I figure it’s kind of our obligation to list all of the relevant books from the longlists that were announced today. So here goes:

PEN/Diamonstein-Spielvogel Award for the Art of the Essay ($10,000):

For a book of essays published in 2014 that exemplifies the dignity and esteem that the essay form imparts to literature.

Judges: Diane Johnson, Dahlia Lithwick, Vijay Seshadri, and Mark Slouka

Sidewalks by Valeria Luiselli, translated from the Spanish by Christina MacSweeney (Coffee House Press)

All love to Valeria Luiselli and the great people at Coffee House. I love this book, and it should win. (Which, sorry, Valeria, Caroline, Chris, and company, basically guarantees you won’t win. I’m awful at being able to predict what judges value. I think I went one for six at the NBCCs, which was better than usual.)

Next up, the PEN Award for Poetry in Translation

The $3,000 PEN Award for Poetry in Translation recognizes book-length translations of poetry from any language into English published in the previous calendar year and is judged by a single translator of poetry appointed by the PEN Translation Committee.

Judge: Ana Božičević

Sorrowtoothpaste Mirrorcream by Kim Hyesoon, translated from the Korean by Don Mee Choi (Action Books)

Love Poems by Bertolt Brecht, translated from the German by David Constantine & Tom Kuhn (Liveright)

I Am the Beggar of the World by Eliza Griswold, translated from the Pashto by the author (Farrar, Straus and Giroux)

Selected Poems by Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz, translated from the Spanish by Edith Grossman (W. W. Norton & Company)

Where Are the Trees Going? by Venus Khoury-Ghata, translated from the Arabic by Marilyn Hacker (Northwestern University Press)

Breathturn into Timestead by Paul Celan, translated from the German by Pierre Joris (Farrar, Straus and Giroux)

Guantanamo by Frank Smith, translated from the French by Vanessa Place (Les Figues Press)

Skin by Tone Škrjanec, translated from the Slovenian by Matthew Rohrer and Ana Pepelnik (Tavern Books)

Diana’s Tree by Alejandra Pizarnik, translated from the Spanish by Yvette Siegert (Ugly Duckling Presse)

Autoepitaph by Reinaldo Arenas, translated from the Spanish by Kelly Washbourne (University Press of Florida)

And now, the one you’ve been probably waiting for, assuming you’re aware of the various PEN prizes and have an interest in this kind of thing—the PEN Translation Prize!

For a book-length translation of prose into English published in 2014.

Judges: Heather Cleary, Lucas Klein, Tess Lewis, and Allison Markin Powell

Trans-Atlantyk by Witold Gombrowicz, translated from the Polish by Danuta Borchardt (Yale/Margellos)

The Gray Notebook by Josep Pla, translated from the Catalan by Peter Bush (New York Review Books)

The Symmetry Teacher by Andrei Bitov, translated from the Russian by Polly Gannon (Farrar, Straus and Giroux)

The Master of Confessions by Thierry Cruvellier, translated from the French by Alex Gilly (Ecco)

The Man Who Loved Dogs by Leonardo Padura, translated from the Spanish by Anna Kushner (Farrar, Straus and Giroux)

I Ching translated from the Chinese by John Minford (Viking Books)

Baboon by Naja Marie Aidt, translated from the Danish by Denise Newman (Two Lines Press)

Texas: The Great Theft by Carmen Boullosa, translated from the Spanish by Samantha Schness (Deep Vellum Publishing)

Self-Portrait in Green by Marie NDiaye, translated from the French by Jordan Stump (Two Lines Press)

The Woman Who Borrowed Memories by Tove Jansson, translated from the Swedish by Thomas Teal & Silvester Mazzarella (New York Review Books)

Is the I Ching really prose? I’ve never thought of it in that way myself, but OK. Maybe there’s something special about this particular translation? It would be interesting to know how the judges evaluated this one.

Other than that, solid list. Well done, judges. Good luck to all the translators and authors!

I can’t figure out from the main PEN award page if they’ll be announcing finalists [UPDATE: It’s on April 15th], and I’m too tired stupid and lazy to dig into this any more. The winners will be announced on May 13th, along with all the lifetime achievement awards.



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