15 November 10 | Chad W. Post

So the 2011 longlist for the IMPAC Award was announced this morning, and includes 162 books from 43 countries. According to the press release 42 are titles in translation, covering 14 different languages.

This is where I usually complain about the IMPAC’s website, the absurdity of a 162 book longlist, of the name of the award, the baroque set of eligibility requirements, of the fact that the shortlist will be announced in April and the winner in June (a mere seven months from now) with little PR build-up to that date, and oh, did I mention their website was created circa the time of Reagan? But to be honest, I’m totally out of jokes. It is what it is, and having been subject to questionable attacks re: a book award in the not-so-distant past, I’ve decided to forgo snark in favor of the books themselves. So here’s a list of the 42 translated titles (and it is a damn good list!) All comments obviously mine, all links to reviews we ran of these books:

Milena Agus, The House in Via Manno translated by Brigid Maher

Niccolo Ammaniti, As God Commands translated by Jonathan Hunt

Vladislav Bajac, Hamam Balkania translated by Randall A. Major
This book is from the Serbian Prose in Translation (aka SPIT) series that Geopoetika launched, and which totally ROCKS.

Ferenc Barnas, The Ninth translated by Paul Olchváry
Made the BTBA Longlist last year.

Gioconda Belli, Infinity in the Palm of her Hand translated by Margaret Sayers Peden
Petch is one of our newest fans, and one of the best translators ever.

Maissa Bey, Above All, Don’t Look Back translated by Senja L. Djelouah

Mikkel Birkegaard, The Library of Shadows translated by Tiina Nunnally
A translation by Tiina Nunnally was the 1,000th title to be entered into the Translation Database. Thankfully—for my sanity, for the perceived health of book culture—we reached 1,000 translated titles before I reached 1,000 Facebook friends.

Marie-Claire Blais, Rebecca, Born in the Maelstrom translated by Nigel Spencer
I feel like I need to read more Marie-Claire Blais.

Massimo Carlotto & Marco Videtta, Poisonville translated by Antony Shugaar

Hélène Cixous, Hyperdream translated by Beverley Bie Brahic

Philippe Claudel, Brodeck’s Report translated by John Cullen

Maurice G. Dantec, Grand Junction translated by Tina A. Kover

Jean Echenoz, Running, translated by Linda Coverdale
Man did it take a while to get to the first title reviewed at Three Percent.

Julia Franck, The Blind Side of the Heart translated by Anthea Bell

Luiz Alfredo Garcia-Roza, Alone in the Crowd translated by Benjamin Moser
Ben Moser is fantastic. And I hold him responsible (along with Andy Tepper) for the renewed interest in Clarice Lispector.

Paolo Giordano, The Solitude of Prime Numbers translated by Shaun Whiteside

Wolf Haas, The Weather Fifteen Years Ago translated by Stephanie Gilardi and Thomas S. Hansen
This book is AMAZING. OK, I know it’s a bitch to get ahold of, but please try. I promise you won’t be disappointed.

Tahar Ben Jelloun, Leaving Tangier translated by Linda Coverdale
Linda Coverdale translates a lot. And a lot of great books.

Ayse Kulin, Farewell: A Mansion in Occupied Istanbul translated by Kenneth J. Dakan

Siegfried Lenz, A Minute’s Silence translated by Anthea Bell

Alain Mabanckou, Broken Glass translated by Helen Stevenson
I heart Alain Mabanckou. Hoping this book ends up on the BTBA list for 2011.

Javier Marías, Your Face Tomorrow: Poison, Shadow and Farewell translated by Margaret Jull Costa
I need a month of days off to read this entire trilogy beginning to end. Totally blew my chance with the Conversational Reading Reading Group.

Patricia Melo, Lost World translated by Clifford Landers

Wu Ming, Manituana translated by Shaun Whiteside
Like Linda Coverdale, Shaun Whiteside translates more than one would think is humanly possible. Especially considering that all the books he does tend to win awards . . .

Vida Ognjenovic, Adulterers translated by Jelena Bankovic / Nicholas Moravcevich
Second book from the SPIT series on this list.

Amos Oz, Rhyming Life and Death translated by Nicholas De Lange
Thank god. I was starting to think that we had really bad taste in book reviews. Must be all those Dalkey books we’ve been reviewing! (Kidding.)

Orhan Pamuk, The Museum of Innocence translated by Maureen Freely
This made the BTBA 2010 fiction longlist and became the focal point of almost all media coverage of the award. It was then promptly trounced by all the other books and left off the shortlist. This is why I love our award.

Claudia Pineiro, Thursday Night Widows translated by Miranda France

Santiago Roncaglio, Red April translated by Edith Grossman

Maryam Sachs, Without Saying Goodbye translated by Sara Sugihara

Bahaa Taher, Sunset Oasis translated by Humphrey T. Davies

Jean-Philippe Toussaint, “Running Away“: translated by Matthew B. Smith
This was a BTBA Honorable Mention last year. And I still think The Bathroom is his best book.

Dubravka Ugresic, Baba Yaga Laid an Egg translated by Ellen Elias-Bursac, Celia Hawkesworth, and Mark Thompson
The IMPAC site actually says “Ellen Elias-Bursac et all.” Shameful!

Chika Unigwe, On Black Sisters’ Street translated by H. Van Riemsdijk

Srdjan Valjarevic, Lake Como translated by Allice Copple Tosic
This is the third SPIT book on the list, which means that 60% of the books they published in their inaugural season were longlisted for the IMPAC. Go Serbian Lit!

Esther Verhoef, Close-Up translated by Paul Vincent

Dimitri Verhulst, Madame Verona Comes Down the Hill translated by David Colmer
I really love Verhulst’s Problemski Hotel. Absolutely stunning novel.

Jorge Volpi, Season of Ash translated by Alfred J. MacAdam
Holy shit—it’s an Open Letter title!

Abdourahman Waberi, In the United States of Africa translated by David and Nicole Ball

Pieter Waterdrinker, The German Wedding translated by Brian Doyle

Tommy Wieringa, Joe Speedboat translated by Sam Garrett
No offense to anyone at Grove, but the title of this book turns me off. Makes me think of Sunday afternoon movies that TV stations play when the Buffalo Bills local football team’s game is blacked out. Something involving a raft, a meadow, a floppy eared dog, and a con man. Sorry, I’m sure this book is golden—don’t let my quirky prejudices influence your reading choices.

Carlos Ruiz Zafon, The Angel’s Game translated by Lucia Graves
If Zafon were American or British, I think he would be a lot more like Dan Brown: an author everyone either loved, or hated, or loved to hate. Because he’s Spanish, only a fraction of readers either love, hate, or love to hate him.

So, in conclusion, Jorge Volpi should win this award, Serbian literature is HOT, and Shaun Whitside and Linda Coverdale are the workhorses of high-quality literary translation. And thank you International IMPAC Dublin Award committee for providing us with such a rich list of books to look into. (There are several on this list that I’ve never heard of.) And I’ll bet anyone $1million that Michael Orthofer has reviewed way more of these titles than we have. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if he’s reviewed as many as 30 . . . that man is a machine!


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