The other day, PEN announced the winners of this year’s literary awards which range from the PEN/ESPN Award for Literary Sports Writing (which went to Dan Berry) to the PEN/Robert W. Bingham Prize for a debut work (which went to Vanessa Veselka).
There are also a number of translation-related awards handed out which may interest a number of you:
PEN Translation Prize ($3,000): For a book-length translation of prose into English published in 2011. Judges: Aron Aji, Donald Breckenridge, and Minna Proctor.
WINNER: Bill Johnston, Stone Upon Stone by Wiesław Myśliwski (Archipelago Books)
(Ed. Note: TOTALLY CALLED IT! Stone Upon Stone won the Best Translated Book Award back in MAY. It’s also kind of interesting that the BTBA prize money for this—$10,000 split between author and translator—is significantly higher than PEN’s prize. That makes me feel pretty cool ⋯ the BTBAs are legit, yo. And more importantly, y’all should buy a Bill Johnston t-shirt. I wear mine all the time.)
Sinan Antoon, In the Presence of Absence by Mahmoud Darwish (Archipelago Books)
(Ed. Note: What is this, an Archipelago party?)
Margaret Jull Costa, The Land at the End of the World by António Lobo Antunes (W.W. Norton)
(Ed. Note: I love this book.)
PEN/Ralph Manheim Medal for Translation: To a translator whose career has demonstrated a commitment to excellence through the body of his or her work. Selected by the PEN Translation Committee.
WINNER: Margaret Sayers Peden
PEN Award for Poetry in Translation ($3,000): For a book-length translation of poetry into English published in 2011. Judge: Christian Hawkey.
WINNER: Jen Hofer, Negro Marfil/Ivory Black by Myriam Moscona (Les Figues Press)
Mark Ford, New Impressions of Africa by Raymond Roussel (Princeton University Press)
Susanna Nied, Light, Grass, and Letter in April by Inger Christensen (New Directions)
PEN/Edward and Lily Tuck Award for Paraguayan Literature ($3,000): To the author of a major work of Paraguayan literature not yet translated into English. Judges: Nancy Festinger, Laura Healy, and Gregary Racz.
WINNER: Delfina Acosta, Versos de amor y de locura (Editorial Servilibro)
PEN Translation Fund Grants ($1,000-3,000): To support the translation of book-length works into English. Judges: Susan Bernofsky, Barbara Epler, Edwin Frank, Michael F. Moore,* Michael Reynolds, Richard Sieburth, Eliot Weinberger, and Natasha Wimmer. (*Non-voting chair of the PEN Translation Fund Advisory Council.)
Bernard Adams, A hóhér háza (The Hangman’s House), a novel by Hungarian writer Andrea Tompa (from Hungarian)
Alexander Booth, in felderlatein (in field latin), a collection of poems by German poet Lutz Seiler (from German)
Brent Edwards, L’Afrique fantôme (Phantom Africa), an ethnographic study with autobiographic elements by the French writer Michel Leiris (from French)
Joshua Daniel Edwin, kummerang (gloomerang), the first book by young German poet Dagmara Kraus (from German)
Musharraf Ali Farooqi, Hoshruba: The Prisoner of Batin, an epic fantasy based on oral tradition by Indian writers Muhammad Husain Jah and Ahmed Husain Qamar (from Urdu)
Deborah Garfinkle, Worm-Eaten Time: Poems from a Life Under Normalization, a collection of banned poems originally circulated in samizdat copies by Czech poet Pavel Šrut (from Czech)
Hillary Gulley, El fin de lo mismo (The End of the Same), a novel by Argentine writer Marcelo Cohen (from Spanish)
Bonnie Huie, Notes of a Crocodile, the groundbreaking queer novel by Taiwanese writer Qiu Miaojin (from Chinese)
Jacquelyn Pope, Hungerpots, a collection of poems by Dutch poet Hester Knibbe (from Dutch)
Matt Reeck and Aftab Ahmad, Mirages of the Mind, a novel by Pakistani writer Mushtaq Ahmad Yusufi (from Urdu)
Carrie Reed, Youyang zazu (Miscellaneous Morsels from Youyang), a compendium from the Tang Dynasty by Duan Chengshi (from Chinese)
Nathanaël, The Mausoleum of Lovers, French novelist and AIDS activists Hervé Guibert’s posthumously published collection of private journals (from French)
Also, a special shout-out to Siddhartha Deb, who received the PEN Open Book Award “for an exceptional work of literature by an author of color published in 2011” for his work The Beautiful and the Damned: A Portrait of the New India.
Congrats to everyone!
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. . .