Just more than two months after the longlist, we are proud to reveal the winners of the 2009 Best Translated Book Award (click here to download the official press release). The announcement was made tonight at a special award party that took place at Melville House Books in Brooklyn, and was hosted by author and critic Francisco Goldman.
For fiction, the award goes to Tranquility by Attila Bartis, translated from the Hungarian by Imre Goldstein and published by Archipelago Books.
Plot summaries rarely do a book justice, but in short, this novel is about Andor Weer, a thirty-six-year-old writer who lives with his mother (a formerly gorgeous stage actress) who hasn’t left the house in fifteen years. She’s bitter, a bit deranged, and pretty aggressive, especially towards Andor’s girlfriends. The two of them are trapped in a incredibly wicked Oedipal mess. On top of this, Andor’s sister Judit defected from Hungary to pursue her music career (this defection brought about the downfall of Rebeka’s stage career), leading their mother to literally bury an casket with all of Judit’s things in the cemetery.
In short, this is a dark, twisted book, and one that’s incredibly gripping and very well written and well translated. (No surprise—Imre Goldstein’s one of the best.) Told is a looping, achronological fashion, the horrors of Andor’s life are revealed bit by bit with a hint of dark humor and a sense that the world (at least for Andor) is total shit.
And on the poetry end of things, the award goes to For the Fighting Spirit of the Walnut by Takashi Hiraide, translated from the Japanese by Sawako Nakayasu and published by New Directions.
Here are a couple sample pieces from the book:
8. Continuous thoughts of packaging ice. No matter what I write it melts, even the address. If and when it arrives, that person will be gone.
17. The radiant subway again. Today, too, in this still-radiant subway, small white explosions occur here and there. They are the sounds of our joints popping, the sound of an all-too-convenient despair fading away. The walls collapse, and the birds of the earth, now without hesitation, begin transporting their nests so as to set them into these daily-renewed explosions.
35. “Up ahead, difficulty.”
Although the judges have been reading books all year, if you're a publisher and want to make sure that your works are being considered, feel free to contact any and all of the panelists. Click here for a mailing list of the poetry judges and here for a mailing listof the fiction judges. If you have any questions, please contact Chad Post.
There's no entry fee, all you have to do is mail one copy (or send an e-version) of your publication to each of the appropriate panelists. Please indicate that the package is a 2014 BTBA submission. . .
All original translations published between January 1, 2013 and December 31, 2013 are eligible. Reprints and retranslation are ineligible. Submissions for the FICTION award will be accepted until November 30, 2013. Submissions for the POETRY award will be accepted until January 31, 2014.