Info on the 2020 Best Translated Book Awards

We’re happy to announce the 2020 Best Translated Book Award! All the relevant information is below. Please let me know if you have any questions.

Award Dates

In terms of dates, this is subject to change, but currently we’re planning on announcing the longlists for fiction and poetry on Wednesday, April 1st, the finalists on May 27th, and the winners on May 27th.



In its thirteenth year, Best Translated Book Award was founded in 2007 to draw attention to the best works of translated literature of the following year. The award’s emphasis is on the quality of the book and translation, with the argument that you can’t have a great work of literature without both of these aspects working at a very high level. The juries are made up of booksellers, writers, translators, and readers.

Starting with the 2009 award (all years given are for the year in which the winners are announced; the books are from the year previous), works of fiction and poetry were awarded separately. And beginning with the 2011 award, each winning author and translator received a $5,000 cash prize thanks to the Amazon Literary Partnership program. Thanks to this program, we have given out over $125,000 in prizes to international authors and their translators. (The amount of prize money is subject to change, but 100% of the money raised for the award is given directly to the translators, authors, and jurors.)



Any work of translation published in English for the first time ever between January 1, 2019 and December 31, 2019 is eligible for the award. A book that existed in English in a previous translation is not eligible, unless more than half of its content is new. (For example, a new collection of poems of which one-third appeared in an early translation would be eligible, but a novel with an extra ten pages added that were previously censored would not.) Books published in the UK are eligible if they are distributed in the U.S. through normal means. Self-published ebooks in translation are eligible if they have an ISBN and are available for purchase through more than one outlet.


Submission Process

To ensure that their books are given full consideration, publishers should send a copy to each of the judges in the appropriate category. Please write “BTBA 2020” on the front of the package. There are nine fiction judges and five poetry, but Open Letter’s offices are included as well for record-keeping purposes. There is no submission fee. Although e-versions are acceptable, they are not encouraged. Every book that’s submitted will be reviewed in full by at least one judge. All of the 2020 judges are based in the U.S. to save publishers on shipping costs. Send the books now to give the juries the most reading time, but make sure you get them all in by December 31, 2019. Thanks!

Here are mailing labels for the fiction and poetry juries.


Poetry Judges

This year’s poetry committee:

Nancy Naomi Carlson is a poet and translator. Recipient of an NEA literature translation grant and a finalist for the BTBA and the CLMP Firecracker Poetry Award, she’s been decorated with the French Academic Palms. Her work has appeared in APR, The Georgia Review, The Paris Review, and Poetry.

Patricia Lockwood was born in Fort Wayne, Indiana, and raised in all the worst cities of the Midwest. She is the author of two poetry collections, Balloon Pop Outlaw Black and Motherland Fatherland Homelandsexuals, a New York Times Notable Book. Her writing has appeared in the New York TimesThe New YorkerThe New RepublicSlate, and The London Review of Books. She lives in Lawrence, Kansas.

Aditi Machado is a poet, translator, and former poetry editor of Asymptote. She is the author of Some Beheadings and translator of Farid Tali’s Prosopopoeia.

Laura Marris is a writer and translator from French. Recent projects include Paol Keineg’s Triste Tristan (co-translated with Rosmarie Waldrop for Burning Deck Press) and In the Shadow of Young Girls in Flower (Liveright), a comic-book version of Proust’s classic. Her translation of Louis Guilloux’s Blood Dark (NYRB) was shortlisted for the 2018 Oxford-Weidenfeld Translation Prize. She teaches writing at the University at Buffalo.

Brandon Shimoda is the author of several books, most recently The Grave on the Wall (City Lights), The Desert (The Song Cave), and Evening Oracle (Letter Machine Editions), which received the William Carlos Williams Award from the Poetry Society of America. He is currently writing (more often disintegrating) a book on the afterlife/ruins of Japanese American incarceration.


Fiction Judges

This year’s fiction committee:

Elisa Wouk Almino is a writer and literary translator from Portuguese. She is currently the L.A. senior editor at Hyperallergic and an editor of Harlequin creature’s online translation platform. She teaches translation at Catapult and UCLA Extension.

Pierce Alquist has a MA in Publishing and Writing from Emerson College and currently works in publishing in Boston. She is also a freelance book critic, writer, and Book Riot contributor. She can be found on Twitter @PierceAlquist and on Book Riot.

Hailey Dezort has a B.A in English from Loyola University of Chicago. She has worked with the Chicago Humanities Festival and is currently a marketing and publicity assistant for Kaye Publicity. You can follow her at @Hailey_Dezort on Twitter or @hayhails on Instagram.

Louisa Ermelino is the author of three novels; Joey Dee Gets Wise; The Black Madonna (Simon and Schuster); The Sisters Mallone (St. Martin’s Press) and a story collection, Malafemmina (Sarabande). She has worked at People, Time International, and InStyle magazines and written stories for anthologies and articles and book reviews for Kirkus, the New York Times, Saveur, Glamour, and several other magazines and newspapers. Since 2005 she has worked at Publishers Weekly magazine as Director of Reviews and now writes a column, Open Book, about noteworthy forthcoming books, interviewing authors, editors, and agents

Hal Hlavinka is a writer and critic living in Denver. His work has appeared in BOMB MagazineMusic & LiteratureTin House, and others.

Keaton Patterson, a lifelong Texan, has a MA in Literature from the University of Houston-Clear Lake. For the past five years, he has been the buyer at Houston’s Brazos Bookstore, where the promotion of literature in translation is always at the forefront of bookselling. He has a particular interest in fiction translated from Spanish, Italian, Japanese, and Russian.

Christopher Phipps is a manager at City Lights Bookstore in San Francisco.

Lesley Rains is the Manager of City of Asylum Bookstore, which focuses on international literature and works in translation in Pittsburgh, PA. Previously she received her MA in History from the University of New Hampshire and owned and operated East End Book Exchange, a general interest used bookstore, also in Pittsburgh. She is a lifelong reader with a special interest in literature about female travelers and investigative nonfiction.

Justin Walls is a bookseller with Powell’s Books in Portland, Oregon and can be found on Twitter @jaawlfins.

6 responses to “Info on the 2020 Best Translated Book Awards”

  1. A quick question: may the translator (instead of the publisher) submit books to the judges?
    Thank you

    • Kaija Straumanis says:

      As long as the book is being published for the first time in English translation, and by a publisher in the US, it is eligible. I don’t think it matters who submits it to the judges.

  2. Muniza Ali says:

    Can the books be submitted by a publisher based in Pakistan?
    Thank you

  3. Martin Brock says:

    Is December 31 a postmark date or a receive date?

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