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.
Many of Virginie Despentes’s books revolve around the same central idea: “To be born a woman [is] the worst fate in practically every society.” But this message is nearly always packaged in easy-to-read books that fill you with the pleasure. . .
Ilja Leonard Pfeijffer’s La Superba is appropriately titled after the Italian city of Genoa, where, after escaping the pressures of fame in his own country, the semi-autobiographical narrator finds himself cataloguing the experiences of its mesmerizing inhabitants with the intention. . .
It took reading 44 pages of Intervenir/Intervene before I began to get a sense of what Dolores Dorantes and Rodrigo Flores Sánchez were up to. Recurring throughout these 44 pages—throughout the entire book—are shovels, shovel smacks to the face, lobelias—aha!. . .
As presaged by its title, contradiction is the theme of Peter Stamm’s novel, All Days Are Night. Gillian, a well-known television personality, remains unknowable to herself. And Hubert, a frustrated artist and Gillian’s lover, creates art through the process of. . .
It’s a rare and wonderful book that begins and ends with violence and humor. At the start of Etgar Keret’s The Seven Good Years, Keret is in a hospital waiting for the birth of his first child while nurses, in. . .
Last year, Han Kang’s The Vegetarian was an unexpected critical hit. Now, it’s just been published in the U.S. and has already received a great deal of positive critical attention. The Vegetarian was a bold book to attempt as an. . .
It’s been almost a year since the publication of Nowhere to Be Found by Bae Suah, but despite being included on the 2015 PEN Translation award longlist, and some pretty vocal support from key indie presses, the book has. . .
Jorge Eduardo Benavides’ novel La paz de los vencidos (The Peace of the Defeated) takes the form of a diary written by a nameless Peruvian thirty-something intellectual slumming it in Santa Cruz de Tenerife in Spain’s Canary Islands. Recently relocated. . .
Anyone with any interest at all in contemporary Moroccan writing must start with Souffles. A cultural and political journal, Souffles (the French word for “breaths”) was founded in 1966 by Abdellatif Laâbi and Mostafa Nissabouri. Run by a group of. . .
Randall Jarrell once argued a point that I will now paraphrase and, in doing so, over-simplify: As a culture, we need book criticism, not book reviews. I sort of agree, but let’s not get into all of that. Having finished. . .