After months and months (twelve to be exact) and books upon books, our nine fiction panelists finally came up with the 25-title fiction longlist for this year’s Best Translated Book Award.
It was a rather difficult decision—it always is, and for me, there’s always a moment where it seems like 30 books would be a better number than 25 . . . —but I’m personally really happy with the list that we came up with. There are some classic authors (Robert Walser, Robert Bolano), some relative unknowns (Wolf Haas, Ferenc Barnas, Cao Naiqian), and a nice geographical mix (including books from Egypt and Djibouti).
Over the next few days, we’ll be highlighting some anthologies, retranslations/reprints, and honorable mentions that didn’t make the longlist. Then, starting next Monday and running for 25-consecutive business days, I’ll highlight a title a day building up to Tuesday, February 16th when we’ll announce both the fiction and poetry finalists for the 2010 Best Translated Book Awards.
One interesting thing about this year’s fiction longlist—it’s incredibly diverse. We have authors from 24 different countries, writing in 17 different languages, and published by 15 different publishers . . .
Without further ado, here are the 25 fiction finalists. Click on the title to purchase the book from Idlewild Books—our featured indie store of the month—or click on the publisher’s name to go to the dedicated page on the publisher’s website.
2010 Best Translated Book Award: Fiction Longlist
There’s Nothing I Can Do When I Think of You Late at Night by Cao Naiqian.
Translated from the Chinese by John Balcom. (China)
(Columbia University Press)
The Weather Fifteen Years Ago by Wolf Haas.
Translated from the German by Stephanie Gilardi and Thomas S. Hansen. (Austria)
Linn Ullmann’s The Cold Song, her fifth novel, is built much like the house about which its story orbits: Mailund, a stately white mansion set in the Norwegian countryside a few hours drive from Oslo. The house, nestled into the. . .
Karel Schoeman’s Afrikaans novel, This Life, translated by Else Silke, falls into a genre maybe only noticed by the type of reader who tends toward Wittgenstein-type family resemblances. The essential resemblance is an elderly narrator, usually alone—or with one other. . .
In Joris-Karl Hyusmans’s most popular novel, À rebours (Against Nature or Against the Grain, depending on the which translated edition you’re reading), there is a famous scene where the protagonist, the decadent Jean des Esseintes, starts setting gemstones on the. . .
There are books that can only wisely be recommended to specific types of readers, where it is easy to know who the respective book won’t appeal to, and Kristiina Ehin’s Walker on Water is one these. What makes this neither. . .
Imagine the most baroque excesses of Goethe, Shakespeare, and Poe, blended together and poured into a single book: That is The Nightwatches of Bonaventura. Ophelia and Hamlet fall in love in a madhouse, suicidal young men deliver mournful and heartfelt. . .
In 1899, Maurice Ravel wrote “Pavane pour une infante défunte” (“Pavane for a Dead Princess”) for solo piano (a decade later, he published an orchestral version). The piece wasn’t written for a particular person; Ravel simply wanted to compose a. . .
Fiston Mwanza Mujila is an award-winning author, born in the Democratic Republic of Congo, who now, at 33, lives in Austria. From what I could find, much of his work is influenced by the Congo’s battle for independence and its. . .
Twenty-One Days of a Neurasthenic is not a novel in the traditional sense. Rather, it is a collection of vignettes recorded by journalist Georges Vasseur in his diary during a month spent in the Pyrenées Mountains to treat his nervous. . .
Founded in 1960 by such creative pioneers as George Perec, Raymond Queneau and Italo Calvino, the Oulipo, shorthand for Ouvroir de littérature potentielle, came about in when a group of writers and mathematicians sought constraints to find new structures and. . .
There’s little to say about a series of prose poems that willfully refuse to identify pronoun antecedents. Or perhaps there are a million things. The poems in Morse, My Deaf Friend— the chapbook by Miloš Djurdjević published by Ugly Duckling. . .