Less than one week before we announce the fiction longlist for the Best Translated Book Award (I have three more pre-announcements posts in the works to whet your appetite), but in the meantime, the French-American Foundation just announced the finalists for their Translation Prize.
The French-American Foundation received 64 submissions to the Translation Prize this year from more than 35 American publishers. . . . There will be one Fiction and one Non-Fiction prize presented at the annual Awards Ceremony on June 5 in New York. Each winning translator will receive a $10,000 cash prize funded by the Florence Gould Foundation.
The jury, which includes Linda Asher, David Bellos, Linda Coverdale, Emmanuelle Ertel and Lorin Stein, has selected the best English translations of French works published in 2012.
Here’s the list of the Fiction Finalists (descriptions theirs):
No One by Gwenaëlle Aubry and translated by Trista Selous (Tin House Books)
No One is a fictional memoir in dictionary form that investigates the unstable identity of the author’s father, a lawyer affected by a disabling bipolar disorder. Letter by letter, Aubry gives shape and meaning to the father who had long disappeared from her view.
We Monks and Soldiers by Lutz Bassmann and translated by Jordan Stump (University of Nebraska Press)
While humanity seems to be fading around them, the members of a shadowy organization are doing their inadequate best to assist those experiencing their last moments. This remarkable work offers readers a thrilling entry into Bassmann’s numinous world.
HHhH by Laurent Binet and translated by Sam Taylor (Farrar, Straus and Giroux)
A seemingly effortlessly blend of historical truth, personal memory, and Laurent Binet’s remarkable imagination, HHhH—a winner of the prestigious Prix Goncourt du Premier Roman—is a work at once thrilling and intellectually engrossing, a fast-paced novel of the Second World War.
Prehistoric Times by Eric Chevillard and translated by Alyson Waters (Archipelago Books)
The characters in Prehistoric Times remind us of the inhabitants of Samuel Beckett’s world: dreamers who in their savage and deductive folly try to modify reality.
With the Animals by Noëlle Revaz and translated by W. Donald Wilson (Dalkey Archive Press)
With the Animals, Noëlle Revaz’s shocking debut, is a novel of mud and blood whose linguistic audaciousness is matched only by its brutality, misanthropy, and gallows humor.
And for those of you who have read this far in this post, you should know that two of those five titles made the Best Translated Book Award fiction longlist . . .
Prose translators will likely disagree, but I believe translating poetry requires a significant level of talent, a commitment to the text, and near mania, all of which suggests that the undertaking is the greatest possible challenge. The task is to. . .
The biggest issues with books like The Subsidiary often have to do with their underpinnings—when we learn that Georges Perec wrote La Disparition without once using the letter E, we are impressed. Imagine such a task! It takes a high. . .
Following The Infatuations, Javier Marías’s latest novel seems, like those that have preceded it, an experiment to test fiction’s capacity to mesmerize with sombre-sexy atmospheres and ruminative elongated sentences stretched across windowless walls of paragraphs. Thus Bad Begins offers his. . .
Death by Water, Kenzaburo Oe’s latest novel to be translated into English, practically begs you to read it as autobiography. Like The Changeling, as well as many other works not yet released in English, Death by Water is narrated in. . .
Jocelyne Saucier’s Twenty-One Cardinals is about the type of unique, indestructible, and often tragic loyalty only found in families. For a brief but stunningly mesmerizing 169 pages, Twenty-One Cardinals invited me in to the haunting and intimate world of the. . .
We know so very little; so little that what we think to be knowledge is hardly worth reckoning with at all; instead we ought to settle for being pleasantly surprised if, on the edge of things, against all expectations, our. . .
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. . .