Earlier this afternoon I received the longlist for the 2014 Best Translated Book Award for Fiction, and just had a chance to break it all down and come up with some interesting tidbits to fuel the speculation as to what made it and what got left off.
Just a quick reminder: The full list will go live at exactly 10 am East Coast time on Tuesday morning. Until then, feel free to list all your predictions in the comments below. (Or at the BTBA 2014 Speculation forum at The Mookse and the Gripes.)
1) I’ll start with the most amazing thing about this year’s longlist: Twenty-three different presses have a title in the running. That’s an incredible amount of diversity—way more than in years past.
2) Four of the books are from the Big Five. (It’s pretty normal for the indies and university presses to dominant. Although, without checking any records, I think this is the best the big presses have done in a while.)
3) Last week I posted my own personal predictions: Fourteen of the books I listed there made the longlist.
4) I was pretty wrong in my Independent Foreign Fiction Prize prediction . . . there are only half as many books on both lists.
5) Speaking of the diversity and spread of the list, there are books from twenty different countries (sixteen different languages) represented this year. Only four countries have more than one book on the list, and no country has more than four titles included.
6) There’s aren’t all that many women on this year’s longlist. (Although the ones that are included have a fantastic shot at making the shortlist.) There are three times more men than women.
7) Lot of really long books. I count six that are at least 500 pages long.
8) There are twenty-five translators on the list, but one of them is listed twice.
9) Unlike the male-female count with authors, there are the exact same number of female translators and male translators on the list.
I think that’s it for now. If I think of any other fun clues, I’ll post them.
Also, we’ll give a year’s subscription to Open Letter books to correctly name ALL twenty-five longlisted titles. Feel free to post your entry in the comments below, or email me at (chad.post [at] rochester.edu).
Without further ado, here are the books that our nine1 judges selected for this year’s Best Translated Book Award Fiction Longlist.
The Planets by Sergio Chejfec, translated from the Spanish by Heather Cleary (Open Letter Books; Argentina)
Prehistoric Times by Eric Chevillard, translated from the French by Alyson Waters (Archipelago Books; France)
The Colonel by Mahmoud Dowlatabadi, translated from the Persian by Tom Patterdale (Melville House; Iran)
Atlas by Dung Kai-Cheung, translated from the Chinese by Anders Hansson and Bonnie S. McDougall (Columbia University Press; China)
Kite by Dominique Eddé, translated from the French by Ros Schwartz (Seagull Books; Lebanon)
We, The Children of Cats by Tomoyuki Hoshino, translated from the Japanese by Brian Bergstrom and Lucy Fraser (PM Press; Japan)
The Map and the Territory by Michel Houellebecq, translated from the French by Gavin Bowd (Knopf; France)
Basti by Intizar Husain, translated from the Urdu by Frances W. Pritchett (New York Review Books; Pakistan)
Mama Leone by Miljenko Jergović, translated from the Croatian by David Williams (Archipelago Books; Croatia)
Awakening to the Great Sleep War by Gert Jonke, translated from the German by Jean M. Snook (Dalkey Archive Press; Austria)
My Struggle: Book One by Karl Knausgaard, translated from the Norwegian by Don Bartlett (Archipelago Books; Norway)
Satantango by László Krasznahorkai, translated from the Hungarian by George Szirtes (New Directions; Hungary)
Autoportrait by Edouard Levé, translated from the French by Lorin Stein (Dalkey Archive Press; France)
A Breath of Life: Pulsations by Clarice Lispector, translated from the Portuguese by Johnny Lorenz (New Directions; Brazil)
The Lair by Norman Manea, translated from the Romanian by Oana Sanziana Marian (Yale University Press; Romania)
The Hunger Angel by Herta Müller, translated from the German by Philip Boehm (Metropolitan Books; Romania)
Traveler of the Century by Andrés Neuman, translated from the Spanish by Nick Caistor and Lorenza Garcia (Farrar, Straus, and Giroux; Argentina)
Happy Moscow by Andrey Platonov, translated from the Russian by Robert Chandler and Elizabeth Chandler (New York Review Books; Russia)
With the Animals by Noëlle Revaz, translated from the French by Donald W. Wilson (Dalkey Archive Press; Switzerland)
Maidenhair by Mikhail Shishkin, translated from the Russian by Marian Schwartz (Open Letter Books; Russia)
Joseph Walser’s Machine by Gonçalo M. Tavares, translated from the Portuguese by Rhett McNeil (Dalkey Archive Press; Portugal)
Island of Second Sight by Albert Vigoleis Thelen, translated from the German by Donald O. White (Overlook; Germany)
Dublinesque by Enrique Vila-Matas, translated from the Spanish by Rosalind Harvey and Anne McLean (New Directions; Spain)
Transit by Abdourahman A. Waberi, translated from the French by David Ball and Nicole Ball (Indiana University Press; Djibouti)
My Father’s Book by Urs Widmer, translated from the German by Donal McLaughlin (Seagull Books; Switzerland)
As in recent years, we will be awarding $20,000 in cash prizes thanks to support from Amazon.com.
On April 10th, we’ll announce the finalists in both the fiction and poetry categories, with the award ceremony taking place in New York City on Saturday, May 4th. (More details to come.)
1 This year’s fiction judges are: Monica Carter, Salonica; Tess Doering Lewis, translator and critic; Scott Esposito, Conversational Reading and Center for the Art of Translation; Susan Harris, Words Without Borders; Bill Martin, translator; Bill Marx, Arts Fuse; Michael Orthofer, Complete Review; Stephen Sparks, Green Apple Books; and Jenn Witte, Skylight Books.
I was really excited to get the longlist from the judges last Thursday. Having removed myself entirely from the process, it was as much of a surprise to me as it is for anyone reading this. And after spending a few days going over it, checking off the titles I’ve read, and the ones I want to read, I have to say that this is a pretty impressive group of books, with French lit being the big winner.
As is mentioned below in the announcement/press release, starting next Monday we’ll feature a book a day from this list, with info about the translator and author, the text itself, and lots of unscientific explanations for why each particular title deserves to win the award.
Also, as a special tease, be sure and listen to this week’s Three Percent Podcast. Ed Nawotka—one of the BTBA fiction judges—joined me and Tom to talk about the list, literature in general, Murakami and his mediocre 1Q84, Arsenal’s thumping of Tottenham, and other sundry matters. But like with the podcast that Garth Hallberg was on, this one is more literary than usual, and a lot cleaner.
On with the announcing:
February 28, 2012—The 25-title fiction longlist for the 2012 Best Translated Book Awards was announced this afternoon. This is the fifth year for the BTBA, which launched in 2007 as a way of highlighting the best works of international literature published in the U.S. in the previous year.
Featuring authors from 14 countries writing in 12 languages, this year’s fiction longlist illustrates the prize’s dedication to literary diversity, ranging from works by established and classic authors, such as Moacyr Scliar’s Kafka’s Leopards and Imre Kertesz’s Fiasco, to works by emerging voices, like Johan Harstad’s Buzz Aldrin, What Happened to You in All the Confusion?, and Inka Parei’s The Shadow-Boxing Woman.
The longlist also includes an eclectic mix of translators, from Steve Dolph—whose translation of Juan José Saer’s Scars is his second full-length publication—to world-renowned translators Bill Johnston—who has two entries on this list, Stone Upon Stone by Wiesław Myśliwski and In Red by Magdalena Tulli. As in years past, the list is dominated by smaller independent publishers, such as Dedalus, Seagull Books, Melville House, and Archipelago Books, although a number of larger houses—like W.W. Norton, Knopf, and Bloomsbury—are also represented.
“We had such a difficult time culling this year’s longlist down to just twenty-five titles,” said fiction judge Gwendolyn Dawson. “Although a small percentage of books published in the U.S. each year are original translations, those books are generally excellent and unique. We are excited by this year’s strong longlist and daunted by the task of narrowing the list to a shortlist of only ten titles.”
Books eligible for this year’s award include titles published between December 1, 2010 and December 31, 2011 that have never before appeared in English translation in any form. Selection criteria include both the quality of the book itself and the quality of the translation, with the goal of honoring translators and authors for their joint effort in making future classics of world literature available to English readers.
This year’s set of judges consists of Monica Carter (Salonica), Gwendolyn Dawson (Literary License), Scott Esposito (Conversational Reading and Center for the Art of Translation), Susan Harris (Words Without Borders), Annie Janusch (Translation Review), Matthew Jakubowski (writer & critic), Brandon Kennedy (bookseller/cataloger), Bill Marx (PRI’s The World: World Books), Edward Nawotka (Publishing Perspectives), Michael Orthofer (Complete Review), and Jeff Waxman (Seminary Co-op and University of Chicago Press).
For the second consecutive year, Three Percent is also proud to announce that Amazon.com is supporting the awards through a $25,000 grant that will provide $5,000 cash prizes to all of the winning authors and translators, as well as $5,000 to bring the judges to New York for the awards ceremony.
The 10-title fiction shortlist will be announced on Tuesday, April 10th, concurrent with the announcement of the finalists for the poetry award. Winners in both categories will be announced in New York City, as part of the PEN World Voices Festival. (Details TK.)
More details about the awards ceremony will be made available in coming weeks. In the meantime, Three Percent will highlight one book a day from the fiction longlist, with features written by translators, reviewers, and editors about the singular qualities of each title, and “why it should win.”
The 2012 BTBA Fiction Longlist (in alphabetical order by author):
Leeches by David Albahari
Translated from the Serbian by Ellen Elias-Bursać
(Houghton Mifflin Harcourt)
My Two Worlds by Sergio Chejfec
Translated from the Spanish by Margaret B. Carson
Demolishing Nisard by Eric Chevillard
Translated from the French by Jordan Stump
(Dalkey Archive Press)
Private Property by Paule Constant
Translated from the French by Margot Miller and France Grenaudier-Klijn
(University of Nebraska Press)
Lightning by Jean Echenoz
Translated from the French by Linda Coverdale
Zone by Mathias Énard
Translated from the French by Charlotte Mandell
Buzz Aldrin, What Happened to You in All the Confusion? by Johan Harstad
Translated from the Norwegian by Deborah Dawkin
Upstaged by Jacques Jouet
Translated from the French by Leland de la Durantaye
(Dalkey Archive Press)
Fiasco by Imre Kertész
Translated from the Hungarian by Tim Wilkinson
Montecore by Jonas Hassen Khemiri
Translated from the Swedish by Rachel Willson-Broyles
Kornél Esti by Dezső Kosztolányi
Translated from the Hungarian by Bernard Adams
I Am a Japanese Writer by Dany Laferrière
Translated from the French by David Homel
(Douglas & MacIntyre)
Suicide by Edouard Levé
Translated from the French by Jan Steyn
(Dalkey Archive Press)
New Finnish Grammar by Diego Marani
Translated from the Italian by Judith Landry
Purgatory by Tomás Eloy Martínez
Translated from the Spanish by Frank Wynne
Stone Upon Stone by Wiesław Myśliwski
Translated from the Polish by Bill Johnston
Scenes from Village Life by Amos Oz
Translated from the Hebrew by Nicholas de Lange
(Houghton Mifflin Harcourt)
The Shadow-Boxing Woman by Inka Parei
Translated from the German by Katy Derbyshire
Funeral for a Dog by Thomas Pletzinger
Translated from the German by Ross Benjamin
Scars by Juan José Saer
Translated from the Spanish by Steve Dolph
Kafka’s Leopards by Moacyr Scliar
Translated from the Portuguese by Thomas O. Beebee
(Texas Tech University Press)
Seven Years by Peter Stamm
Translated from the German by Michael Hofmann
The Truth about Marie by Jean-Philippe Toussaint
Translated from the French by Matthew B. Smith
(Dalkey Archive Press)
In Red by Magdalena Tulli
Translated from the Polish by Bill Johnston
Never Any End to Paris by Enrique Vila-Matas
Translated from the Spanish by Anne McLean
Pedro Zarraluki’s The History of Silence (trans. Nick Caistor and Lorenza García) begins with the narrator and his wife, Irene, setting out to write a book about silence, itself called The History of Silence: “This is the story of how. . .
There are plenty of reasons you can fail to find the rhythm of a book. Sometimes it’s a matter of discarding initial assumptions or impressions, sometimes of resetting oneself. Zigmunds Skujiņš’s Flesh-Coloured Dominoes was a defining experience in the necessity. . .
In a culture that privileges prose, reviewing poetry is fairly pointless. And I’ve long since stopped caring about what the world reads and dropped the crusade to get Americans to read more poems. Part of the fault, as I’ve suggested. . .
I would like to pose the argument that it is rare for one to ever come across a truly passive protagonist in a novel. The protagonist (perhaps) of Three Light-Years, Claudio Viberti, is just that—a shy internist who lives in. . .
The last five days of the eleventh-century Icelandic politician, writer of sagas, and famous murder victim Snorri Sturleleson (the Norwegian spelling, Snorre, is preserved in the book) make up Thorvald Steen’s most recently translated historical fiction, The Little Horse. Murdered. . .
We all know Paris, or at least we think we know it. The Eiffel Tower. The Latin Quarter. The Champs-Élysées. The touristy stuff. In Dominique Fabre’s novel, Guys Like Me, we’re shown a different side of Paris: a gray, decaying. . .
One hundred pages into Birth of a Bridge, the prize-winning novel from French writer Maylis de Kerangal, the narrator describes how starting in November, birds come to nest in the wetlands of the fictional city of Coca, California, for three. . .