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Two Weeks to the BTBA Longlists!

In just a couple of weeks—on Tuesday, March 29th at 10am to be precise—we’re going to announce the longlist for this year’s Best Translated Book Awards for fiction and poetry. Between now and then, I want to put up a few posts about the award, the titles that might make the list, other trends, etc. But I thought I’d start with some general information.

First off, as in years past, Amazon is sponsoring this as part of their Amazon Literary Partnership program. Their $25,000 means that the winning authors and translators will each receive $5,000, with the remaining $5,000 being split up among the fourteen judges.

In terms of dates, the longlists will be announced on Tuesday, March 29th, with the finalists being revealed on Tuesday, April 19th, and the winners will be announced the evening of Wednesday, May 4th, both on The Millions and in person at The Folly. (More details to come.) (And stay tuned for info about a bookseller-centric BTBA event during BEA in Chicago.)

If you want to know what books are eligible, download this But here are a few statistics:

  • 480 Fiction titles were eligible this year, and 89 Poetry collections.
  • For fiction, 29% of the eligible titles were written by women, compared to 36% of the poetry collections.
  • The eligible fiction titles were written by authors from 68 different countries. The countries with the most eligible titles: France (81), Germany (51), Spain (32), Italy (31), and Sweden (20).
  • Poetry has eligible titles from 42 different countries. The ones with the most eligible titles are: China (9), Italy (8), Argentina (6), Germany (6), and Mexico (6).1
  • 132 different publishers published an eligible fiction title this year. For poetry, 51 presses published eligible collections. Nine presses published 10 or more books of fiction in translation, whereas only 3 poetry presses did 5 or more poetry collections in translation.

Bean counting doesn’t really give us any indication of what titles might make the longlist, but it is sort of interesting to look at. Starting with the next post, I’ll try and break this down a bit more, looking at potential favorites, big name authors who have a book in the game this year, and more.

It’s worth pointing out now that I have absolutely no knowledge of what the judges are discussing or planning on including. I’m not part of their email/Slack conversations, haven’t talked to any of them about specific books, and will be as surprised as everyone else when the lists are unveiled. Which is why it’s the perfect time to start speculating . . . Post your own guesses below. Curious to see what titles everyone else thinks are worthy.

1 I’m really surprised at how different these two lists are. And by the diversity in country of origin for poetry in translation. It’s also worth noting that Italy and Germany are the only countries to appear on both these lists. Germany you might have guessed, but Italy?

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