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.
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. . .