12 March 10 | E.J. Van Lanen | Comments

So, even though we’re in danger right now of becoming a blog that only writes about book prizes (or maybe I’m only feeling that way because the Best Translated Book Award has been on my mind for so long), we would be remiss if we didn’t make mention of the Independent Foreign Fiction Prize Longlist:

  • Boris Akunin The Coronation (translated by Andrew Bromfield from the Russian) Weidenfeld & Nicolson
  • Ketil Bjørnstad To Music (Deborah Dawkin & Erik Skuggevik; Norwegian) Maia Press
  • Hassan Blasim The Madman of Freedom Square (Jonathan Wright; Arabic) Comma Press
  • Philippe Claudel Brodeck’s Report (John Cullen; French) MacLehose Press
  • Julia Franck The Blind Side of the Heart (Anthea Bell; German) Harvill Secker
  • Pietro Grossi Fists (Howard Curtis; Italian) Pushkin Press
  • Elias Khoury Yalo (Humphrey Davies; Arabic) MacLehose Press
  • Jonathan Littell The Kindly Ones (Charlotte Mandell; French) Chatto & Windus
  • Alain Mabanckou Broken Glass (Helen Stevenson; French) Serpent’s Tail
  • Javier Marías Your Face Tomorrow, Volume 3: Poison, Shadow and Farewell (Margaret Jull Costa; Spanish) Chatto & Windus
  • Yoko Ogawa The Housekeeper and the Professor (Stephen Snyder; Japanese) Harvill Secker
  • Claudia Piñeiro Thursday Night Widows (Miranda France; Spanish) Bitter Lemon Press
  • Sankar Chowringhee (Arunava Sinha; Bengali) Atlantic
  • Rafik Schami The Dark Side of Love (Anthea Bell; German) Arabia Books
  • Bahaa Taher Sunset Oasis (Humphrey Davies; Arabic) Sceptre

There are a few things to note: Although the bigger presses, or big name presses, are well represented, it’s interesting to note how much of the heavy lifting for translation in the UK is done by smaller independent presses (Comma, Maia, Bitter Lemon); there are three books (three!) that are translated from Arabic, which has to be some kind of record; and Humphrey Davies and Anthea Bell have the knack—two nominated titles each.

11 May 09 | Chad W. Post | Comments

One of the several mammoth translations released this year that’s on my “to read for the Best Translated Book Award” shelf—along with The Kindly Ones, News of the Empire, The Loop, Brothers, etc.—is Rafik Schami’s The Dark Side of Love. Clocking in at over 850 pages, Interlink Publishing deserves some recognition simply for being brave enough to publish something like this.

Claire Hopley’s review in the Washington Times makes it sound pretty interesting:

Novels from Syria rarely come our way, and novels from the Syrian emigre community of Europe are scarcely more frequent, so Rafik Schami’s “The Dark Side of Love,” first published in Germany where it was a best-seller, comes with preoccupations that are new to most of us.

Its form, however, is a lot like those 19th-century novels that trace their hero’s plight for hundreds of pages, 853 pages in this case. “Loose, baggy monsters” was Henry James’ description of classic English novels. Readers of “The Dark Side of Love” will often feel they are grappling with just such a monster – one that seems to ramble off, even get away, at times.

The novel is framed as a detective tale in which Inspector Barudi seeks to discover the murderer of an important, and, as it turns out, sadistic secret service agent. But Barudi soon fades into the background as the novel focuses on Farid Mushtak and the love of his life, Rana Shahin, before finally coming together as a history of Syria in the middle decades of the 20th century. It’s a history that is rivetingly full of incident, awash in despair, yet not without dignity as exemplified by Farid.

What’s funny—was pointed out by the Literary Saloon’s Michael Orthofer—is the claim that this book was “Translated from the Syrian by Anthea Bell,” which is clearly wrong. We all make mistakes (I’m sure there are a minimum of three typos or grammatical errors in this post along), and I’m sure WT will have this corrected on their website in the very near future. But for the record, Schami moved to Germany in 1971 and this novel was first published in German in 2004. And Anthea Bell just happens to be one of the most respected translators working today, and is most well known for her translation of the French Asterix comics and her translation of W.G. Sebald’s Austerlitz. And although she does translate from German, French, Polish, and Danish, she doesn’t actually translate from “Syrian.”

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