Congratulations to author Julian Barnes and translator Ronald Vlek, whose novel Alsof het voorbij is (The Sense of an Ending, published by Atlas Contact) just won the 2012 European Literature Prize. Initiated in 2011, the Prize selects the best Dutch translations of European literary novels to appear in the last year. For winning the award, the author receives a sum of €10,000, the translator € 2,500.
Barnes’ brief but powerful new novel is “. . . as calm as it is disturbing, as melancholy as it is comical, a novel that can be read on several levels: as a personal outpouring, an account by a man wishing to clear his name, or an assault on the power of memories. A novel that makes the reader doubt everything he thinks he knows about himself.” For Vlek’s translation, the jury expressed equal praise: “Translator Ronald Vlek not only manages to transform the narrator’s language into perfect, measured Dutch, he is remarkably successful in capturing Barnes’ undertone. He meticulously transforms the restrained, sometimes evasive sentences, the lucid images and carefully chosen words into Dutch without ever allowing them to lose any of their connotations.”
Modeled after Three Percent’s Best Translated Book Award, the European Literature Prize is sponsored by the Academic-Cultural Centre SPUI25, the Dutch Foundation for Literature, the weekly magazine De Groene Amsterdammer, and Athenaeum Booksellers. The four other shortlisted titles for the prize are as follows:
Geluk als het geluk ver te zoeken is by Wilhelm Genazino, translated from German by Gerrit Bussink (Atlas Contact)
De kaart en het gebied by Michel Houellebecq, translated from French by Martin de Haan (De Arbeiderspers)
C by Tom McCarthy, translated from English by Auke Leistra (De Bezige Bij)
De waarheid omtrent Marie by Jean-Philippe Toussaint, translated from French by Marianne Kaas (Prometheus)
Eleven independent bookshops selected books for the longlist. The professional jury then pared it down, selected the shortlist, and chose the winner.
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.. . .