April 10, 2012—On Tuesday evening, the poetry and fiction finalists for the 2012 Best Translated Book Awards were announced during a special event at the University of Rochester, and on Three Percent, the university’s translation-centric website (www.rochester.edu/threepercent).
“In previous years, there was much less consensus than we saw this year when choosing a list. That eleven very different readers have all found these books so exceptional speaks volumes about the incredible appeal of the shortlist—this is some of the best fiction of the year, in any language,” said fiction committee member Jeff Waxman.
Highlights from this year’s fiction list include Jean Echenoz’s Lightning, translated from the French by Linda Coverdale; Magdalena Tulli’s In Red, translated from the Polish by Bill Johnston; and Enrique Vila-Matas’s Never Any End to Paris, translated from the Spanish by Anne McLean.
Notable poetry finalists include Anja Utler’s engulf—enkindle, translated from the German by Kurt Beals; and Amal al-Jubouri’s Hagar Before the Occupation, Hagar After the Occupation, translated from the Arabic by Rebecca Gayle Howell with Husam Qaisi.
“We had an especially strong selection of books this year,” said BTBA poetry committee member Idra Novey, “and from a wider ranger of presses, many of them publishing translations of contemporary poets for the first time, including Alice James and Canarium Books, both of which ended up with a finalist on this year’s list.”
The Best Translated Book Awards launched in 2007 as a way of bringing attention to great works of international literature. Original translation (no reprints or retranslations) published between December 2010 and December 2011 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 the Best Translated Book Award website, and the poetry finalists will be featured there and on Three Percent beginning next week. 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, May 4 at 6:00pm at McNally Jackson Books as part of the PEN World Voices Festival. More details about the celebration will be available in late April.
Once again, Amazon.com is supporting the BTBA this year through its giving program (www.tinyurl.com/amazongiving), providing the prize money so that the winning authors and translators will each 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, Worlds 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), Gwendolyn Dawson (Literary License), Scott Esposito (Conversational Reading and Center for the Art of Translation), Susan Harris (Words Without Borders), Annie Janusch (Translation Review), Matthew Jakubowski (writer & critic), Brandon Kennedy (bookseller/cataloger), Bill Marx (PRI’s The World: World Books), Edward Nawotka (Publishing Perspectives), Michael Orthofer (Complete Review), and Jeff Waxman (Seminary Co-op and University of Chicago Press).
The poetry judges are: Brandon Holmquest (poet, translator, editor Asymptote Journal), Jennifer Kronovet (poet, translator), Erica Mena (poet, translator, host of the Reading the World Podcast), Idra Novey (poet, translator), and Kevin Prufer (poet, academic, essayist).
Fiction Finalists (in alphabetical order):
Lightning by Jean Echenoz
Translated from the French by Linda Coverdale
Upstaged by Jacques Jouet
Translated from the French by Leland de la Durantaye
(Dalkey Archive Press)
Kornél Esti by Dezső Kosztolányi
Translated from the Hungarian by Bernard Adams
I Am a Japanese Writer by Dany Laferrière
Translated from the French by David Homel
(Douglas & MacIntyre)
New Finnish Grammar by Diego Marani
Translated from the Italian by Judith Landry
Stone Upon Stone by Wiesław Myśliwski
Translated from the Polish by Bill Johnston
Scars by Juan José Saer
Translated from the Spanish by Steve Dolph
Kafka’s Leopards by Moacyr Scliar
Translated from the Portuguese by Thomas O. Beebee
(Texas Tech University Press)
In Red by Magdalena Tulli
Translated from the Polish by Bill Johnston
Never Any End to Paris by Enrique Vila-Matas
Translated from the Spanish by Anne McLean
Poetry Finalists (in alphabetical order):
Hagar Before the Occupation, Hagar After the Occupation by Amal al-Jubouri
Translated from the Arabic by Rebecca Gayle Howell with Husam Qaisi
(Alice James Books)
Last Verses by Jules Laforgue
Translated from the French by Donald Revell
Spectacle & Pigsty by Kiwao Nomura
Translated from the Japanese by Kyoko Yoshida and Forrest Gander
A Fireproof Box by Gleb Shulpyakov
Translated from the Russian by Christopher Mattison
engulf—enkindle by Anja Utler
Translation from the German by Kurt Beals
False Friends by Uljana Wolf
Translated from the German by Susan Bernofsky
(Ugly Duckling Presse)
Here’s a PDF version of the press release.
Though far from the most convincing reason to read literature in translation, one common side effect is learning of another culture, of its history. Within that, and a stronger motivation to read, is the discovery of stories not possible within. . .
Despite cries that literature is dead, dying, and self-replicating in the worst way, once in a while a book comes along to remind readers that there’s still a lot of surprise to be found on the printed page. To be. . .
“I was small. And my village was small, I came to know that in time. But when I was small it was big for me, so big that when I had to cross it from one end to the other,. . .
A few weeks after moving into a farm house in the Welsh countryside, Emilie, an expatriate from the Netherlands, starts to think about her uncle. This uncle tried to drown himself in a pond in front of the hotel where. . .
Think back to the last adventure- or action-type book you read. Wasn’t it cool? Didn’t it make you want to do things, like learn to shoot a crossbow, hack complicated information systems, travel to strange worlds, take on knife-wielding thugs,. . .
In Aira’s Shantytown, while we’re inside the characters’ heads for a good portion of the story, the voice we read on the page is really that of Aira himself, as he works out the plot of the book he’s writing.. . .
Noir is not an easy genre to define—or if it once was, that was a long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away; as a quick guess, maybe Silver Lake, Los Angeles, 1935. When two books as different as. . .
Some time ago I read this phrase: “The page is the only place in the universe God left blank for me.”
Pedro Mairal’s short novel The Missing Year of Juan Salvatierra is more about these blank spaces than the usual full. . .
“What if even in the afterlife you have to know foreign languages? Since I have already suffered so much trying to speak Danish, make sure to assign me to the Polish zone . . .”
So reads a typical aphoristic “poem”. . .
If you somehow managed to overlook the 2012 translation of Andrés Neuman’s breathtaking Traveler of the Century (and woe betide all whom continue to do so), you now have two exceptional works of fiction from the young Argentine virtuoso demanding. . .