4 December 08 | Chad W. Post

After weeks of reading, researching, voting, taking recommendations, discussing, and passionately defending, we’ve finally come up with our 25-title fiction longlist for the “Best Translated Book of 2008:”

  • The Book of Chameleons by José Eduardo Agualusa, translated from the Portuguese by Daniel Hahn (Simon & Schuster)
  • Tranquility by Attila Bartis, translated from the Hungarian by Imre Goldstein (Archipelago)
  • 2666 by Roberto Bolaño, translated from the Spanish by Natasha Wimmer (Farrar, Straus & Giroux)
  • Voice Over by Céline Curiol, translated from the French by Sam Richard (Seven Stories)
  • Metropole by Ferenc Karinthy, translated from the Hungarian by George Szirtes (Telegram)
  • Detective Story by Imre Kertesz, translated from the Hungarian by Tim Wilkinson (Knopf)
  • Yalo by Elias Khoury, translated from the Arabic by Peter Theroux (Archipelago)
  • I’d Like by Amanda Michalopoulou, translated from the Greek by Karen Emmerich (Dalkey Archive)
  • Senselessness by Horacio Castellanos Moya, translated from the Spanish by Katherine Silver (New Directions)
  • The Lemoine Affair by Marcel Proust, translated from the French by Charlotte Mandell (Melville House)
  • Death with Interruptions by José Saramago, translated from the Portuguese by Margaret Jull Costa (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt)
  • Unforgiving Years by Victor Serge, translated from the French by Richard Greeman (New York Review Books)
  • Camera by Jean-Philippe Toussaint, translated from the French by Matthew Smith (Dalkey Archive)
  • Khirbet Khizeh by S. Yizhar, translated from the Hebrew by Nicholas de Lange and Yaacob Dweck (Ibis Editions)
  • Bonsai by Alejandro Zambra, translated from the Spanish by Carolina De Robertis (Melville House)
  • The Post-Office Girl by Stefan Zweig, translated from the German by Joel Rotenberg (New York Review Books)

We will be announcing the 10 finalists on January 27th, with the winning titles announced on February 19th at a party at the Melville House offices. Over the next several weeks, we’ll be highlighting each of these titles one-by-one leading up to the announcement of the finalists.

In terms of criteria, we only considered original titles published (or released) in the U.S. in 2008. No retranslations, no reprints, no paperbacks of previously published hardcovers were eligible. And what we’re looking for is the best translated book, not just the best translation. Speaking for all the judges, we believe that a great translated book is a combination of a great original and a great translation, and as such, we’d like to honor the book as a book, as a collaborative effort between author, translator, editor, and publisher.

This year’s panelists included Monica Carter, bookseller at Skylight Books and editor of Salonica ; Steve Dolph, editor of CALQUE ; Scott Esposito, editor of Conversational Reading and The Quarterly Conversation ; Brandon Kennedy, bookseller at Spoonbill & Sugartown ; Michael Orthofer, editor of the Literary Saloon and Complete Review ; Chad W. Post, director of Open Letter Books and this blog ; E.J. Van Lanen, senior editor of Open Letter Books and Three Percent; and Jeff Waxman, bookseller at the Seminary Co-op Bookstores and editor of The Front Table.

(And just so everyone knows this is on the up-and-up, E.J. and I were excluded from voting on Open Letter books, and won’t vote on Taker in choosing the finalists.)

For some additional information, click here for an official press release.

(Sorry there’s no link to the Saramago book. Apparently, in addition to freezing acquisitions, the Houghton Mifflin Harcourt’s innovative new business model includes not listing individual books on their website. Brilliant!)

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