Running a little bit late with the BTBA announcments for this year, but over the next week, expect to see the official page updated and an updated to the translation database. In the meantime, this post will give publishers, translators, and interested readers all the necessary information about who’s on the committee this year, and how to submit titles.
In terms of dates, this is subject to change, but currently we’re planning on announcing the longlists for fiction and poetry on Tuesday, March 28th, the finalists on Tuesday, April 18th, and the winners on Tuesday, May 9th.
The Best Translated Book Award was founded in 2007 (making this its tenth iteration) to draw attention to the best works of translated literature that came out the following year. The award’s emphasis is on the quality of the book and translation, with the argument that you can’t have a great work of literature without both of these aspects working at a very high level.
Starting with the 2009 award (all years given are for the year in which the winners are announced; the books are from the year previous), works of fiction and poetry were awarded separately. And beginning with the 2011 award, each winning author and translator received a $5,000 cash prize thanks to the Amazon Literary Partnership program. Thanks to this program, we have given out $100,000 in prizes to international authors and their translators.
Any work of translation published in English for the first time ever between January 1, 2016 and December 31, 2016 is eligible for the award. A book that existed in English in a previous translation is not eligible, unless more than half of its content is new. (For example, a new collection of poems of which one-third appeared in an early translation would be eligible, but a novel with an extra ten pages added that were previously censored would not.) Books published in the UK are eligible if they are distributed in the U.S. through normal means. Self-published ebooks in translation are eligible if they have an ISBN are available for purchase through more than one outlet.
To ensure that their books are given full consideration, publishers should send a copy to each of the judges in the appropriate category. Please write “BTBA 2017” on the front of the package. There are nine fiction judges and five poetry, but Open Letter’s offices are included as well for record-keeping purposes. There is no submission fee. Although e-versions are acceptable, they are not encouraged. Every book that’s submitted will be reviewed in full by at least one judge. Unlike past years, all of the 2017 judges are based in the U.S. to save publishers on shipping costs.
This year’s poetry committee:
Jarrod Annis is a writer and bookseller living in Brooklyn, NY. He works as manager and small press buyer at Greenlight Bookstore, and previously served as an associate editor at Ugly Duckling Presse. His work has appeared in Coldfront, Greetings, and Poems By Sunday.
Katrine Øgaard Jensen is an editor at the Council for European Studies at Columbia University and a translator from the Danish. She previously served as blog editor at Asymptote and Words Without Borders, and as editor in chief of the Columbia Journal.
Tess Lewis is a writer and translator from French and German and serves as an Advisory Editor for the Hudson Review. Her translations have won a number of awards including the 2015 ACFNY Translation Prize and a Guggenheim Fellowship.
Becka Mara McKay directs the Creative Writing MFA at Florida Atlantic University. Publications include poetry: A Meteorologist in the Promised Land (Shearsman, 2010) and Happiness Is the New Bedtime (Slash Pine Press, 2016) and three translations of Israeli fiction: Laundry (Autumn Hill, 2008), Blue Has No South (Clockroot, 2010), and Lunar Savings Time (Clockroot, 2011).
Emma Ramadan is a translator of fiction and poetry from the French, including Anne Garréta’s Sphinx (Deep Vellum) and Anne Parian’s Monospace (La Presse). She lives in Providence, RI where she is the co-owner of Riffraff, a bookstore and bar. She also recently received an NEA Translation Fellowship.
This year’s fiction committee:
Trevor Berrett is the creator and editor of The Mookse and the Gripes, where he and others review world literature and film. He can be found on Twitter @mookse.
Monica Carter is a freelance critic whose nonfiction has appeared in publications including Black Clock, World Literature Today, and Foreword Reviews. She curates Salonica World Lit, which is a virtual journal dedicated to international literature and culture.
Rachel S. Cordasco has a Ph.D. in Literary Studies from the University of Wisconsin, Madison, and has taught courses in American and British literature, and Composition. She recently launched a site devoted to speculative fiction in translation.
Jennifer Croft is the recipient of Fulbright, PEN and National Endowment for the Arts grants, as well as the Michael Henry Heim Prize for Translation. She has been a MacDowell Colony Fellow and holds a Ph.D. from Northwestern University and an MFA from the University of Iowa. She is a Founding Editor of the Buenos Aires Review.
Lori Feathers is an Assistant Managing Editor at Asymptote, a freelance book critic and member of the National Book Critics Circle. Her recent reviews can be found at The Rumpus, Words Without Borders, World Literature Today, Full Stop, Three Percent, Rain Taxi and on Twitter @LoriFeathers.
Jeremy Garber is the events coordinator for Powell’s Books and also a freelance reviewer.
Mark Haber is the manager of Brazos Bookstore in Houston, Texas. He is also a freelance book critic whose recent reviews can be found at Music & Literature and The Rumpus. His book of short stories, Deathbed Conversions, is currently getting translated into Spanish by Argonáutica books in Mexico.
George Henson is a translator of contemporary Latin American and Spanish prose, a contributing editor for World Literature Today and Asymptote, and a lecturer at the University of Oklahoma.
Steph Opitz is the books reviewer for Marie Claire magazine. She also works with the Association of Writers and Writing Programs (AWP), Kirkus Reviews, the Brooklyn Book Festival, and the Twin Cities Book Festival.
There you go! Starting next week, the blog will pick up again with more reviews, previews of forthcoming books, BTBA posts, and general articles—including one about where I’ve been all summer—to go along with the podcasts and information about Open Letter author tours. Summer’s over, apparently.Tweet
What can be said about a book like this? It’s one of those books that can make you feel like you’re reading it for the first time in the middle of winter, so you could justify the feeling of wanting to burrow into piles of blankets with your emotions and just think about things for a while, uninterrupted, and experience this feeling Klougart creates of demanding and forcing some distance between her narrator and the reader, yet simultaneously urging, yearning for, a closeness and unity. The phrase “all the feels” is something this novel makes tangible on a very deep level.
Jeremy’s brief review brings back all those feels, and it’s thrilling to see that others were affected in similar ways, or that others picked up on the same or similar things. Gah. This book, you guys, this book.
Here’s a peek at Jeremy’s take on it:
The first of Josefine Klougart’s award-winning novels to be translated into english, One of Us Is Sleeping (Én af os sover) is a dolorous, yet beautifully composed work of failed love, loss, and lament. The star of Klougart’s book is her gorgeous, evocative imagery and emotional acuity. With grief aplenty—mourning the fated end of a romantic relationship, as well as her ill mother—the Danish author’s sorrowful narrator is ever-conflicted, trying as she does to move beyond what’s been, despite being eternally bound to it.
For the full review, go here.
Summer is on its way out and August is coming to an end, which means, for me, back to school (aka papers and not always reading for fun). With some time left, however, I plan on finishing off and enjoying a few books from my ever growing ‘To Read’ stack. A book that should be on everyone’s end of summer reading list is One of Us is Sleeping by Josefine Klougart. For one, August is Women in Translation month, so what better way to celebrate? Also, Lit Hub cited Klougart as one of the 13 translated women you should be reading. Publisher’s Weekly has even called One of Us Is Sleeping “a beguiling conjuring of consciousness.” With all this buzz and excitement, to celebrate Klougart’s English-language debut, we are sending her on a fall tour. Check out the dates below!
Monday, September 19th, 7:00 pm
Reading and Conversation with Maria Marqvard Jensen
Scandinavia House (58 Park Ave, New York, NY)
Wednesday, September 21st, 7:00 pm
Reading and Conversation with Josefine Klougart and Sarah Gerard
Community Bookstore (143 7th Ave, Brooklyn, NY)
Friday, September 23rd, 6:00 pm
Read Local Event with Josefine Klougart
Nox Cocktail Lounge (302 N. Goodman, Rochester, NY)
Saturday, September 24th, 3:00 pm
Reading and Conversation with Susan Harris
57th Street Books (1301 E 57th St, Chicago, IL)
Monday, September 26th, 7:00 pm
Reading and Conversation with Josefine Klougart
Brazos Bookstore (2421 Bissonnet Street, Houston, TX)
Tuesday, September 27th, 7:00 pm
Reading and Conversation with Josefine Klougart
Deep Vellum (3000 Commerce St, Dallas, TX)
Thursday, September 29, 7:30 pm
Reading and Conversation with Josefine Klougart
Powell’s Books (3723 SE Hawthorne Blvd, Portland, OR)
Monday, October 3, 4:30-6:30 pm
Talk and Reading with the Department of Scandinavian
201 Moses Hall University of California (Berkeley, CA)
Tuesday, October 4, 7:30 pm
Reading and Conversation with Josefine Klougart
Green Apple Books on the Park (506 Clement St., San Francisco, CA)
In addition to being a translator from the French (you may recognize her name from Anne F. Garréta’s Sphinx), Emma is one of two co-founders (along with Tom Roberge) of the brand-new and forthcoming Riffraff bookstore and bar, which will be located in Providence, RI.
Here’s the beginning of Emma’s review:
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 of a trashy popular novel. The writing is straightforward, not overly literary, and yet by the end you realize all of Despentes’s complex feminist points have not only been made, but have found their way into your mind, have changed something about the way you think. This is her genius.
Despentes doesn’t merely explore what it’s like to be a woman in the world. Some of her books are about what it’s like to be anyone in a world that keeps people unequal, whether they be men or women, rich or poor. They’re about how everyone is affected, and affected negatively, by our society’s status quo. Bye Bye Blondie is one of these books.
Published by the Feminist Press earlier this month and translated from the French by Siân Reynolds, Bye Bye Blondie is a story about Gloria and Gloria’s rage. At first we are made to think Gloria’s outbursts are immature, the enactment of “the crazy girlfriend,” costing her relationships with lovers, friends, and family. We learn Gloria was previously placed in a psychiatric hospital by her parents because of these outbursts. And yet as the book goes on, we realize Gloria’s rage is incredibly right and true. It’s the only sane course of action for anyone who sees the world for what it is.
For the rest of the review, go here.Tweet
After an extended hiatus, Chad and Tom are back to discuss a slew of things that happened over the past couple months. These include Book Marks, what’s going to happen to B&N, and Tim Parks’s article on The Vegetarian. They also talk about some books they’ve read recently—including Zero K, which neither of them liked—before ending with a major announcement from Tom.
Also worth noting that there’s a glaring lack of sports talk in this podcast. A
Here are the books discussed this week:
I Love Dick by Chris Krause
The Motel Life by Willy Vlautin
Thus Bad Begins by Javier Marías
The Transmigration of Bodies by Yuri Herrera
The Island of Point Nemo by Jean-Marie Blas de Roblés
The Talented Mr. Ripley by Patricia Highsmith
Screamin’ Jay Hawkins’ All-Time Greatest Hits by Mark Binelli
Zero K by Don DeLillo
Also, just a reminder, since we changed our podcast feed, you may need to unsubscribe and resubscribe to the correct feed in iTunes at that link, or right here:
Or, you can just put this feed link into whichever is your podcast app of choice:
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This video has been out for a couple of months, but just came to my attention recently. It’s of Angélica Freitas reading from Rilke Shake, translated from the Portuguese by Hilary Kaplan and published by Phoneme Media. It also won this year’s Best Translated Book Award. (Speaking of which, it’s about time to start planning and releasing info about next year . . . )
Summer is in full hazy swing here in Rochester, but luckily we have a handful of great interns at Open Letter/Three Percent this summer, who are going to be helping us out with handfuls of great projects and terrible jokes, including Anna—who is about to start her senior year at the University of Rochester in English Literature.
Here’s the beginning of her review:
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 of writing a novel himself. Written in three parts, the novel narrates Ilja’s days as a Dutch foreigner in Genoa, describing the beautiful city which both frustrates and enthralls him. Unlike his own country, which runs systematically and smoothly, Ilja praises Italy for its “improvisation,” causing Italians to be “the most resourceful, resilient, and creative people I know.”
Often holed up in a bar enjoying an aperitif and claiming to write poetry, Ilja assumes the role of careful observer, creating caricatures and recording the stories of those around him. As a foreigner himself, Ilja presents us with a character who is simultaneously within and without— though he has seemingly mastered the Italian language, and purchased nice Italian suits beyond his means to traipse around the city in, Ilja is never fully integrated into the Genoese world he adores. He even identifies with tourists, describing their behaviors in connection to himself: “Incomprehension and insecurity are written all over their faces as they hesitantly wander around the labyrinth. I like them. They’re my brothers. I feel connected to them.”
For the rest of the review, go here.
It’s been slow on the review and post end this summer, while we’ve been busy around the offices here and elsewhere, but we hope you’ve all been enjoying your summers, and of course enjoying the Copa and Euro Cup games!
But literature in translation is as important as ever—so here’s the beginning of Vince’s review:
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! Shovels and lobelias; gardening, violence, flowering plants. Buried secrets and blossoming. There seemed a sense to it all.
Intervenir/Intervene is being sold as a book of poetry. That is true. But then again, this is not poetry that obeys the rules poetry are supposed to follow. I state this in the year 2016, long after free verse and post modernism have done their best to ruin formal poetry. Even in the age of facile “performance art” and hollow “experimentalism,” there is work that reminds jaded readers like myself that there is value in some of what stands under the all too wide umbrella of avant-garde. Intervenir/Intervene is that sort of work.
For the rest of the review, go here.
Last Thursday, May 19th, CLMP held the (new) 2nd Annual Firecracker Awards. Presented by the Community of Literary Magazines and Presses (CLMP) with the American Booksellers Association, the Firecracker Awards for independently and self-published literature are a revitalized iteration of the Firecracker Alternative Book Award originally established in 1996.
What we’re particularly pleased to announce is that Open Letter’s edition of The Things We Don’t Do by Andrés Neuman, translated from the Spanish be Nick Caistor and Lorenza Garcia, was announced the winner for the Fiction category!
At an Awards Ceremony hosted by Poets House in New York City featuring Master of Ceremonies Dorothea Lasky (Rome), CLMP’s esteemed panel of judges were pleased to reveal the winners of the 2016 Firecracker Awards for Independent Literary Publishing in four categories:
FICTION — The Things We Don’t Do by Andrés Neuman, translated from the Spanish by Nick Caistor & Lorenza Garcia (Open Letter Books)
About this title, Brad Johnson, bookseller and manager for Diesel Bookstore (Oakland), writes: “At a time when so much of the world is talking about the policing of borders and the construction of walls, Andrés Neuman’s playful and philosophical stories in The Things We Don’t Do are refreshing. For Neuman, there is no simple divide between one self and another; love and hate; or even life and death. We find that what occurs ‘between’ two people is not so different from what occurs within one. The Things We Don’t Do is an achievement, and an extension of the Latin American tradition blazed by the likes of Cortázar and Bolaño.”
We are incredibly grateful to CLMP and the jury, and excited for Andrés, Nick, and Lorenza!
For more information on CLMP and the Firecracker Awards, as well as a full list of the finalists, and a full list of the winners, go here.Tweet
Here’s the beginning of Lori’s review:
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 destruction. Gillian’s and Hubert’s struggles to understand the emotional basis of these incongruities provide dramatic tension in this taut and provocative novel.
Although Gillian survives an auto accident that kills her husband, the crash damages and permanently alters her face. As she convalesces, she recalls the weeks leading up to the accident, in particular her televised interview with Hubert, a local artist, and her post-interview request that he paint her portrait. Gillian shares with Hubert the hope that his painting of her will reveal truths to which she has been blind. All that she understands about herself is derivative of others’ impressions and reactions, and she longs for Hubert to interpret and reveal to her, her true self. Instead, Hubert soon becomes frustrated with his subject. “I don’t see anything in you. I’ll be pleased if I manage the exterior half decently,” he tetchily tells Gillian during a sitting. He accuses her of intentionally concealing her inner self, of “acting,” and of an unwillingness to reveal any vulnerability, an accusation that is not new to her.
For the rest of the review, go here.Tweet
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. . .
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. . .