2015 Best Translated Book Award Longlists Announced

April 7, 2015—Elena Ferrante, Julio Cortázar, Tove Jansson, Kim Hyesoon, and Alejandra Pizarnik are just a handful of the internationally renowned authors with a book on the Best Translated Book Award longlists for fiction and poetry.

Announced this morning on the Three Percent website, these longlists represent the results of months of reading by fifteen judges tasked with deciding which were the “best” works of fiction and poetry in translation to be published in 2014. More books were eligible for this year’s award than any year in the past, with almost 500 works of fiction in translation being published for the first time ever, and almost 100 poetry collections. By contrast, there were only 360 books total that were eligible for the 2008 awards.

As first-time fiction judge James Crossley puts it, “Not only were there more eligible titles than ever, they came from more diverse sources. From different nations and languages, but also from different publishers around the world, many of them brand-new and dedicated exclusively to literature in translation. I can’t help think that the BTBA in some small way helped usher these publishers into existence.”

This year’s longlist selections are interesting for their mix of languages, publishers, places of origin, and time of writing. For example, this year’s longlist includes a “lost” Julio Cortázar book, Fantomas Versus the Multinational Vampires, which mixes in bits of a comic book along with Cortázar’s prose, as well as Those Who Leave and Those Who Stay, the third book in media-avoidant author Elena Ferrante’s Neapolitan Quartet.

Fourteen different languages are represented across the two longlists, led by Spanish and French, each of which has eleven total books in the running. The authors hail from twenty-three different places of origin, and the books came out from thirty different publishers. There are also fifty translators in the running for this year’s award, including Margaret Jull Costa and Cole Swenson who both have two titles on the lists.

As in recent years, the Best Translated Book Awards are underwritten by Amazon.com’s giving programs, which allow both winning authors and winning translators to receive $5,000 cash prizes.

“By helping English-language readers discover international works of fiction and poetry, the Best Translated Book Award has become a champion of the art and craft of literary translation,” said Neal Thompson, Amazon’s Senior Director of Author and Publishing relations. “Amazon is proud to support this award and the fine work of this year’s winners, representing a diversity of languages and nations.”

The finalists for both the fiction and poetry awards will be announced on Tuesday, May 5th, and the winners will be announced on Wednesday, May 27th as part of BookExpo America. Additionally, a celebration will take place that evening (details to come).

Past winners of the fiction award include: Seiobo There Below and Satantango, both by László Krasznahorkai, and translated from the Hungarian by Ottilie Mulzet and George Szirtes respectively; Stone Upon Stone by Wiesław Myśliwski, translated from the Polish by Bill Johnston; and, The True Deceiver by Tove Jansson, translated from the Swedish by Thomas Teal. (Jansson and Teal are the only authors and translators on this year’s fiction longlist who have previously won the award.)

In terms of the poetry award, past winners include: The Guest in the Wood by Elisa Biagini, translated from the Italian by Diana Thow, Sarah Stickney, and Eugene Ostashevsky; Wheel with a Single Spoke by Nichita Stănescu, translated from the Romanian by Sean Cotter; and Spectacle & Pigsty by Kiwao Nomura, translated from the Japanese by Kyoko Yoshida and Forrest Gander.

This year’s fiction jury is made up of: George Carroll, North-North-West and Shelf Awareness; Monica Carter, Salonica; James Crossley, Island Books; Scott Esposito, Conversational Reading and Center for the Art of Translation; Jeremy Garber, Powell’s Books; Katrine Øgaard Jensen, Asymptote; Madeleine LaRue, Music & Literature; Daniel Medin, American University of Paris, Cahiers Series, Quarterly Conversation, and the White Review; and Michael Orthofer, Complete Review.

The poetry jury includes: Biswamit Dwibedy, poet; Bill Martin, translator, critic, organizer of The Bridge; Dawn Lundy Martin, poet; Erica Mena, poet and translator; and Stefan Tobler, And Other Stories and translator.


For more information, visit the official Best Translated Book Award site and the official BTBA Facebook page, and follow the award on Twitter.

Additionally, over the next month, leading up to the announcement of the shortlists, Three Percent will be featuring a different title each day as part of the “Why This Book Should Win” series.

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