After months of reading, discussing, evaluating, and collaborating, the 14 fiction and poetry judges have settled on the 2011 Best Translated Book Award Finalists. Here’s the official press release.
Highlights from this year’s fiction list include Ernst Weiss’s Georg Letham: Physician and Murder, translated from the German by Joel Rotenberg; Tove Jansson’s The True Deceiver, translated from the Swedish by Thomas Teal; and Marlene Van Niekerk’s Agaat, translated from the Afrikaans by Michiel Heyns. And notable poetry finalists include Aleš Šteger’s The Book of Things, translated from the Slovenian by Brian Henry; and Ayane Kawata’s Time of Sky & Castles in the Air, translated from the Japanese by previous BTBA winner, Sawako Nakayasu.
“As in years past, the panels did a great job selecting their finalists,” said Chad W. Post, director of Three Percent. “There’s a lot of diversity here, in terms of original languages, in terms of style, in terms of original publication date, and in terms of reputation. These lists capture the wealth of exciting literature being produced outside our borders.”
The Best Translated Book Awards launched in 2007 as a way of bringing attention to great works of international literature. Original translations (no reprints or retranslations) published between December 2009 and November 2010 are eligible for this year’s award. Quality of the original book and the artistry of the English translation are the criteria used in determining the winning titles.
Overviews of the ten fiction finalists can be found at besttranslatedbook.org, and the five poetry finalists will be featured there and on Three Percent starting Monday, March 28th. Also available on besttranslatedbook.org are promotional posters and shelf talkers that booksellers can download for free.
The BTBA winners will be announced on Friday, April 29th at 9PM at the Bowery Poetry Club as part of the PEN World Voices Festival, with a celebration to follow. More details about the Award Ceremony will be available in mid-April.
Another change to this year’s BTBA, is that thanks to the support of Amazon.com (www.tinyurl.com/amazongiving), each winning author and translator will receive a $5,000 cash prize. The BTBA is one of several non-profit programs supported by Amazon.com that is focused on bringing more great works from around the world to English-language readers. Other recipients include the Pen American Center Translation Fund, Words without Borders, Open Letter, the Center for the Art of Translation, Archipelago Books, and the Ledig House International Writers Residency.
This year’s fiction judges are: Monica Carter (Salonica), Scott Esposito (Conversational Reading and Center for the Art of Translation), Susan Harris (Words Without Borders), Annie Janusch (Translation Review), Matthew Jakubowski (writer and critic), Brandon Kennedy (bookseller/cataloger), Bill Marx (PRI’s The World: World Books and The Arts Fuse), Michael Orthofer (Complete Review) and Jeff Waxman (Seminary Co-op and The Front Table).
The poetry judges are: Brandon Homquest (poet, translator, editor Asymptote Journal), Jennifer Kronovet (poet, translator), Erica Mena (poet, translator, host of the Reading the World Podcast), Idra Novey (poet, translator, Executive Director of Literary Translation at Columbia), and Kevin Prufer (poet, academic, essayist).
The 2011 BTBA Fiction Finalists (in alphabetical order by author):
The Literary Conference by César Aira, translated from the Spanish by Katherine Silver (New Directions)
The Golden Age by Michal Ajvaz, translated from the Czech by Andrew Oakland (Dalkey Archive)
A Life on Paper by Georges-Olivier Châteaureynaud, translated from the French by Edward Gauvin (Small Beer)
The Jokers by Albert Cossery, translated from the French by Anna Moschovakis (New York Review Books)
Visitation by Jenny Erpenbeck, translated from the German by Susan Bernofsky (New Directions)
Hocus Bogus by Romain Gary (writing as Émile Ajar), translated from the French by David Bellos (Yale University Press)
The True Deceiver by Tove Jansson, translated from the Swedish by Thomas Teal (New York Review Books)
On Elegance While Sleeping by Emilio Lascano Tegui, translated from the Spanish by Idra Novey (Dalkey Archive)
Agaat by Marlene Van Niekerk, translated from the Afrikaans by Michiel Heyns (Tin House)
Georg Letham: Physician and Murderer by Ernst Weiss, translated from the German by Joel Rotenberg (Archipelago)
The 2011 BTBA Poetry Finalists (in alphabetical order by author):
Geometries by Guillevic, translated from the French by Richard Sieburth (Ugly Duckling Presse)
Time of Sky & Castles in the Air by Ayane Kawata, translated from the Japanese by Sawako Nakayasu (Litmus Press)
Child of Nature by Luljeta Lleshanaku, translated from the Albanian by Henry Israeli and Shpresa Qatipi (New Directions)
The Book of Things by Aleš Šteger, translated from the Slovenian by Brian Henry (BOA Editions)
Flash Cards by Yu Jian, translated from the Chinese by Wang Ping and Ron Padgett (Zephyr Press)
Pedro Zarraluki’s The History of Silence (trans. Nick Caistor and Lorenza García) begins with the narrator and his wife, Irene, setting out to write a book about silence, itself called The History of Silence: “This is the story of how. . .
There are plenty of reasons you can fail to find the rhythm of a book. Sometimes it’s a matter of discarding initial assumptions or impressions, sometimes of resetting oneself. Zigmunds Skujiņš’s Flesh-Coloured Dominoes was a defining experience in the necessity. . .
In a culture that privileges prose, reviewing poetry is fairly pointless. And I’ve long since stopped caring about what the world reads and dropped the crusade to get Americans to read more poems. Part of the fault, as I’ve suggested. . .
I would like to pose the argument that it is rare for one to ever come across a truly passive protagonist in a novel. The protagonist (perhaps) of Three Light-Years, Claudio Viberti, is just that—a shy internist who lives in. . .
The last five days of the eleventh-century Icelandic politician, writer of sagas, and famous murder victim Snorri Sturleleson (the Norwegian spelling, Snorre, is preserved in the book) make up Thorvald Steen’s most recently translated historical fiction, The Little Horse. Murdered. . .
We all know Paris, or at least we think we know it. The Eiffel Tower. The Latin Quarter. The Champs-Élysées. The touristy stuff. In Dominique Fabre’s novel, Guys Like Me, we’re shown a different side of Paris: a gray, decaying. . .
One hundred pages into Birth of a Bridge, the prize-winning novel from French writer Maylis de Kerangal, the narrator describes how starting in November, birds come to nest in the wetlands of the fictional city of Coca, California, for three. . .
At 30, the Mexican writer Valeria Luiselli is already gathering her rosebuds. Faces in the Crowd, her poised debut novel, was published by Coffee House Press, along with her Brodsky-infused essay collection, Sidewalks. The essays stand as a theoretical map. . .
Fantomas Versus the Multinational Vampires: An Attainable Utopia (narrated by Julio Cortázar) is, not disappointingly, as wild a book as its title suggests. It is a half-novella half-graphic novel story about . . . what, exactly? A European tribunal, Latin. . .
Marie NDiaye has created a tiny, psychological masterpiece with her Self-Portrait in Green. In it she explores how our private fears and insecurities can distort what we believe to be real and can cause us to sabotage our intimate relationships.. . .