Best Translated Book Award 2018: The Longlists!
Announced at The Millions, the lists include a diverse range of authors, languages, countries, and publishers. On the fiction side of things, several previously nominated authors made the longlist, including Mathias Ènard and Marie NDiaye, along with a number of first-time authors, such as Naivo, whose Beyond the Rice Fields is the first novel from Madagascar to make the list. Ghachar Ghochar by Vivek Shanbhag is the first book translated from the Kannada to receive this honor, and this is the first time on the longlist for a number of translators, including Will Vanderhyden, Gini Alhadeff, and Charis Bredin.
As fiction judge Patrick Smith put it, “Nine readers of varied backgrounds, taste, and experience came together to create an awards longlist reflecting just that. There are new voices and powerhouse authors on the list. Amir Tag Elsir appears for the second time in three years—a quiet demand that places like Sudan be recognized for their contribution to world literature. From intimate books about families and relationships, to loud, wildly entertaining books, this list shows the strength of literature in translation, and that it’s for readers of all sorts. Anyone can find something on the list to engage with and to move them.”
According to poetry judge Emma Ramadan, the poetry longlist is equally diverse. “This year’s poetry longlist was especially competitive, with the judges seeking to highlight works that bring something new into the English language. With eleven countries and three continents represented, the BTBA poetry longlist this year, as in years past, is a rich representation of what the rest of the world has to offer to our ways of thinking about the possibilities of literature.”
It features an array of notable presses—Ugly Duckling Presse, Black Ocean, Action, White Pines—along with previously nominated translators (Johannes Göransson appears for the second year in a row) and some new names, such as former BTBA judge, Katrine Øgaard Jensen.
Combined, the longlists reflect the diversity of international books published last year by featuring authors from twenty-five different countries, writing in eighteen languages, and published by twenty-six different presses. New Directions and Seagull Books are the only presses to have titles on both longlists, with Feminist Press, New Directions, Open Letter, and Ugly Duckling Presse receiving the most nominations, with three longlisted titles each.
Thanks to grant funds from the Amazon Literary Partnership, the winning authors and translators will each receive $5,000 cash prizes. Three Percent at the University of Rochester founded the BTBAs in 2008, and over the past seven years, the Amazon Literary Partnership has contributed more than $140,000 to international authors and their translators through the BTBA.
“Translators are the overlooked heroes of international literature, and these awards shine a light on translators’ efforts to bring global stories from diverse voices to English-language readers,” said Neal Thompson, director of the Amazon Literary Partnership program. “Now more than ever it feels vital for us to be sharing stories, voices, and perspectives from around the world, and Amazon is proud to continue its support for the Best Translated Book Awards in fiction and poetry.”
The finalists for both the fiction and poetry awards will be announced on The Millions on Tuesday, May 15th, and the winners will be announced on Thursday, May 31st, as part of the New York Rights Fair following the 4:30 panel on “Translated Literature Today: A Decade of Growth.”
Past winners of the fiction award include: Chronicle of the Murdered House by Lúcio Cardoso, translated from the Portuguese by Margaret Jull Costa and Robin Patterson; Signs Preceding the End of the World by Yuri Herrera, translated from the Spanish by Lisa Dillman; The Last Lover by Can Xue, translated from the Chinese by Annelise Finegan Wasmoen; 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.
In terms of the poetry award, past winners include: Extracting the Stone of Madness by Alejandra Pizarnik, translated from the Spanish by Yvette Siegert; Rilke Shake by Angélica Freitas, translated from the Portuguese by Hilary Kaplan; Diorama by Rocío Cerón, translated from the Spanish by Anna Rosenwong; 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: Caitlin Baker (University Book Store, Seattle), Kasia Bartoszyńska (Monmouth College), Tara Cheesman-Olmsted (Reader at Large), Lori Feathers (Interabang Books), Mark Haber (writer, Brazos Bookstore), Adam Hetherington (author), Jeremy Keng (reader, freelance reviewer), Bradley Schmidt (translator), and P.T. Smith (Ebenezer Books, The Scofield).
The poetry jury includes: Raluca Albu (BOMB), Jarrod Annis (Greenlight Bookstore), Tess Lewis (writer and translator), Aditi Machado (poet and translator), and Emma Ramadan (translator, Riffraff Bookstore).
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.