The eighth annual Best Translated Book Awards were announced at BookExpo America this afternoon, with Can Xue’s The Last Lover, translated from the Chinese by Annelise Finegan Wasmoen, taking home the award for fiction, and Rocío Cerón’s Diorama, translated from the Spanish by Anna Rosenwong, winning in poetry.
Thanks again to the support of Amazon.com’s giving programs, the winning authors and translators will each receive $5,000.
“I’m so excited,” Can Xue said when she was reached for a comment, “I think it’s the most beautiful thing that has happened in my whole life. I always think of the BTBA as a very prestigious prize rewarding writers who have the great courage to achieve their literary ambitions.”
According to the jury, Can Xue’s (“tsan shway”) The Last Lover (published by Yale University Press) was the most radical and uncompromising of this year’s finalists, pushing the novel form into bold new territory. Journeying through a dreamworld as strange yet disquietingly familiar as Kafka’s Amerika, The Last Lover proves radiantly original. If Orientalists describe an East that exists only in the Western imagination, Can Xue describes its shadow, offering a beguiling dream of a Chinese West. Annelise Finegan Wasmoen’s translation succeeds in crafting a powerful English voice for a writer of singular imagination and insight.
The judges also named three runners-up in fiction: Harlequin’s Millions by Bohumil Hrabal, translated from the Czech by Stacey Knecht and published by Archipelago Books, for the wonderful lyricism of its winding sentences; Faces in the Crowd by Valeria Luiselli, translated from the Spanish by Christina MacSweeney and published by Coffee House Press, for the exceptional promise it demonstrates as a debut novel; and Those Who Leave and Those Who Stay by Elena Ferrante, translated from the Italian by Ann Goldstein and published by Europa Editions, for its vibrant characters and sweeping narrative power.
On the poetry side of things, David Shook, the co-founder and editorial director of Phoneme Media “congratulates translator Anna Rosenwong for her masterful translation of Rocío Cerón’s Diorama, our first book of poetry and one of the most fascinating and important books to have been published in Mexico this century. Phoneme Media is incredibly grateful for the support of the BTBA’s judges and organizers, to Three Percent and its indefatigable director Chad Post, to our fellow shortlisted publishing houses, translators, and authors, and to our readers around the world. Congratulations, Anna and Rocío, on receiving this much deserved award!”
Past winners of the fiction award include: Seiobo There Below and Satantango, both by László Krasznahorkai (recent recipient of the Man Booker International Prize) and translated from the Hungarian by Ottilie Mulzet and George Szirtes respectively; Stone Upon Stone by Wiesław Myśliwski, translated from the Polish by Bill Johnston; and, The True Deceiver by Tove Jansson, translated from the Swedish by Thomas Teal. (Jansson and Teal are the only author and translator on this year’s fiction shortlist who have previously won the award.)
In terms of the poetry award, past winners include: The Guest in the Wood by Elisa Biagini, translated from the Italian by Diana Thow, Sarah Stickney, and Eugene Ostashevsky; Wheel with a Single Spoke by Nichita Stănescu, translated from the Romanian by Sean Cotter; and Spectacle & Pigsty by Kiwao Nomura, translated from the Japanese by Kyoko Yoshida and Forrest Gander.
This year’s fiction jury is made up of: George Carroll, North-North-West and Shelf Awareness; Monica Carter, Salonica; James Crossley, Island Books; Scott Esposito, Conversational Reading and Center for the Art of Translation; Jeremy Garber, Powell’s Books; Katrine Øgaard Jensen, Asymptote; Madeleine LaRue, Music & Literature; Daniel Medin, American University of Paris, Cahiers Series, Quarterly Conversation, and the White Review; and Michael Orthofer, Complete Review.
The poetry jury includes: Biswamit Dwibedy, poet; Bill Martin, translator, critic, organizer of The Bridge; Dawn Lundy Martin, poet; Erica Mena, poet and translator; and Stefan Tobler, And Other Stories and translator.
Following on my earlier post about the “buzz” panel on general fiction in translation, here’s some info about the one that Tom Roberge will be moderating on Friday morning, which will be featuring all crime novels.
BEA Selects Crime Fiction in Translation
Fricay, May 28th, 10:30am
Europa Editions (Booth 3124) will be presenting two titles, starting with Massimo Carlotto’s Gang of Lovers, translated from the Italian by Antony Shugaar:
Padua, Italy. An unremarkable man, a husband and father, disappears without a trace. After a few months of searching, the police send his file to the cold cases department to be thrown in with the files of other missing persons. One woman knows the truth about his disappearance, but, being the daughter of a prominent and wealthy Swiss industrialist she fears coming forward with what she knows: that she was his lover and that there is more to his disappearance than another bored suburban husband running out on his. Stricken by guilt, she finally confides in a lawyer who advises her to turn to Marco Buratti, aka The Alligator, for help.
And, Michael Reynolds will also present Maurizio de Giovanni’s The Bottom of Your Heart, also translated from the Italian by Antony Shugaar:
In the middle of a summer heat wave, as Naples prepares for one of its most important holy days, a renowned surgeon falls to his death from his office window. For Commissario Ricciardi and Brigadier Maione it is the beginning of an investigation that will bring them into contact with the most torrid, conflicting, and enduring of human passions. In the world Ricciardi and Maione are about to enter, infidelity appears inextricable from the most joyful expressions of love, and, this interdependence sows doubt and uncertainty in both men, compromising their personal lives.
Europa Editions is celebrating their 10th Anniversary this year, starting with a party tonight at Greenlight Bookstore. I’m planning on going, and, as if it were still 2008, I’m going to try and do some crazy blogging about BEA when I get back. Stay tuned.
Soho Press (Booth 3240) will present The Gun by Fuminori Nakamura, translated from the Japanese by Allison Markin Powell:
On a nighttime walk along a Tokyo riverbank, a young man named Nishikawa stumbles on a dead body, besides which is lying a gun. From the moment Nishikawa makes the decision to take the gun, the world around him blurs. Knowing he possesses the gun brings an intoxicating sense of purpose to his dull university life. But Nishikawa’s personal entanglements are becoming unexpectedly complicated: he finds himself romantically involved with two women, while his biological father, whom he’s never met, lies dying in a hospital. Through it all, he can’t stop thinking about the gun—and the four bullets preloaded in its chamber. As he spirals into obsession, his focus is consumed by one idea: that possessing the gun is no longer enough—he must fire it.
Soho is one of the coolest presses publishing today. Great crime books, great literary fiction, great covers, great staff.
Come out on Friday to see Tom host this panel with Michael Reynolds and Juliet Grames.Tweet
So, this year, for the first time ever, BookExpo America is sponsoring two panels highlighting forthcoming works of fiction: one featuring general fiction, the other focusing on crime and thrillers. (Naturally, I’m moderating the first one and Tom Roberge is doing the other.)
The one on general adult fiction will take place first on Thursday, May 28th, at 10:30am on the Eastside Stage. The Crime one will be on Friday, May 29th, at 10:30am on the Eastside Stage.
Any of you who happen to be attending BEA should definitely come check this out. As a pilot program, it’s very important that we have a decent number of people show up for the events, so that we can hopefully grow this more and more in the future.
To whet your interest, here’s a bit of a preview of the General Fiction panel (I’ll do crime separately), complete with booth numbers so that you can go snag galleys of the books that look most interesting to you:
BEA Selects Adult Fiction in Translation
Thursday, May 27th, 10:30am
Coach House Books (Booth 648) will present Guano by Louis Carmain, translated from the French by Rhonda Mullins.
Since this won’t be available for a while, I can’t find any information about this on Coach House’s site, but I was able to scrape this off of Google Translate:
This is a story of war and love. Now, as these two are often born of entertainment no – tense border, made smiles – to surprise us in the end to be all – dead, tears, surprises – there was virtually no grand departure thing.
Which . . . is intriguing . . . (Seriously though, Coach House does great work and I’m really glad they’ll be featured on this panel.)
Coffee House Press (Booth 642) will present Valeria Luiselli’s The Story of My Teeth, translated from the Spanish by Christina MacSweeney:
Highway is a late-in-life world traveller, yarn spinner, collector, and legendary auctioneer. His most precious possessions are the teeth of the ‘notorious infamous’ like Plato, Petrarch, and Virginia Woolf. Written in collaboration with the workers at a Jumex juice factory, Teeth is an elegant, witty, exhilarating romp through the industrial suburbs of Mexico City and Luiselli’s own literary influences.
(I actually just finished reading this and it’s wonderful.)
Graywolf Press (Booth 3064) will present A Woman Loved by Andreï Makine, translated from the French by Geoffrey Strachan:
Catherine the Great’s life seems to have been made for the cinema—her rise to power, her reportedly countless love affairs and wild sexual escapades, the episodes of betrayal, revenge, and even murder—there’s no shortage of historical drama. But Oleg Erdmann, a young Russian filmmaker, seeks to discover and portray Catherine’s essential, emotional truth, her real life, beyond the rumors and facades. His first screenplay just barely makes it past the Soviet film board, and is assigned to a talented director, but the resulting film fails to avoid the usual clichés. After the dissolution of the Soviet Union, as he struggles to find a place for himself in the new order, Oleg agrees to work with an old friend on a TV series that becomes a quick success—as well as increasingly lurid, a far cry from his original vision. He continues to seek the real Catherine elsewhere . . .
Makine is extremely well-known throughout the world (you may be familiar with Dreams of My Russian Summers, which enjoyed a great deal of success) and it’s great that he’s found a home at Graywolf for his new books.
Come out on Thursday morning to see Erin Kottke, Alana Wilcox, and Caroline Casey talk about all of these!Tweet
This is just a reminder for any and everyone in the New York area—especially those of you who are attending BookExpo America.
The official announcement of this year’s Best Translated Book Award winners will take place tomorrow, Wednesday, May 27th, at 2:30pm at the Eastside Stage in the Jacob Javitz Center. Judges Katrine Ogaard Jensen and Jeremy Garber will be there to announce the fiction, and judge Bill Martin will do the poetry.
Following that announcement, everyone in NY with an interest in international literature will be gathering at The Folly (92 W. Houston Street, near Thompson) at 5pm for drinks and appetizers. This is open to the public, so be sure and come by!Tweet
This week’s podcast is the latest in the ongoing Three Percent Book Club. Julia Berner-Tobin of Feminist Press joins Tom and Chad to talk about Virginie Despentes’s fantastic Apocalypse Baby. (And to rant about Franzen, because, of course.)
And a reminder: Don’t forget to send us your own questions, rants, and raves (about anything from the podcast to publishing to literature to translations to Tom to Chad to soccer to cocktails to etc.) for our big episode 100. Hit us up at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This week’s music is Tous Les Mêmes by Stromae.
As always you can subscribe to the podcast in iTunes right here. Or just copy this link to add our show’s feed to any podcast app:
The chapbook itself is short—clocking in at 32 pages—and is yet another beautiful work of print done by Ugly Duckling. Here’s the beginning of Vince’s review, which tries to get a grasp on what to expect, or not to expect, from poems labeled as “avant-garde”:
There’s little to say about a series of prose poems that willfully refuse to identify pronoun antecedents. Or perhaps there are a million things. The poems in _Morse, My Deaf Friend_— the chapbook by Miloš Djurdjević published by Ugly Duckling Presse as part of their Eastern European Poets Series— will be confounding to those accustomed to poetry that holds its reader’s hand. These poems do not. They are elliptical and strange and offer very few concrete signifiers.
For the rest of the review, go here.Tweet
Yesterday afternoon, as we were recording Three Percent podcast #99, it was announced that László Krasznahorkai had won the 2015 Man Book International Prize, becoming the only the sixth winner of the biennial award, and the first winner since Ismail Kadare in 2005 who doesn’t write in English.
From the judges:
In László Krasznahorkai’s The Melancholy of Resistance, a sinister circus has put a massive taxidermic specimen, a whole whale, Leviathan itself, on display in a country town. Violence soon erupts, and the book as a whole could be described as a vision, satirical and prophetic, of the dark historical province that goes by the name of Western Civilisation. Here, however, as throughout Krasznahorkai’s work, what strikes the reader above all are the extraordinary sentences, sentences of incredible length that go to incredible lengths, their tone switching from solemn to madcap to quizzical to desolate as they go their wayward way; epic sentences that, like a lint roll, pick up all sorts of odd and unexpected things as they accumulate inexorably into paragraphs that are as monumental as they are scabrous and musical.
And Marina Warner:
László Krasznahorkai is a visionary writer of extraordinary intensity and vocal range who captures the texture of present day existence in scenes that are terrifying, strange, appallingly comic, and often shatteringly beautiful. The Melancholy of Resistance, Satantango and Seiobo There Below are magnificent works of deep imagination and complex passions, in which the human comedy verges painfully onto transcendence. Krasznahorkai, who writes in Hungarian, has been superbly served by his translators, George Szirtes and Ottilie Mulzet.
My favorite part of the official press release has to be this paragraph:
Krasznahorkai and his translator George Szirtes were longlisted for the 2013 Independent Foreign Fiction Prize for Satantango and Krasznahorkai has won the Best Translated Book Award in the US two years in a row, in 2013 for Satantango and in 2014 for Seiobo There Below.
For winning the award, Krasznahorkai will receive £60,000, and he “has chosen to split the £15,000 translator’s prize between two translators, George Szirtes (who translated Satantango and The Melancholy of Resistance) and Ottilie Mulzet (who translated Seiobo There Below).”
If you’re not already a Krasznahorkai fan and reader, you can find out more about all of his works via Scott Esposito’s Guide for the Perplexed and Fascinated.Tweet
The latest addition to our Reviews section is a piece by Robert Anthony Siegel on Terayama Shūji’s The Crimson Thread of Abandon, translated by Elizabeth L. Armstrong and published by the University of Hawai’i Press.
Robert Anthony Siegel is the author of two novels, All Will Be Revealed and All the Money in the World. Recent work of his has been in Tin House and the New York Times, and is forthcoming in The Paris Review. More information on him and his work can be found at his web site.
Here’s the beginning of Robert’s review:
The Crimson Thread of Abandon is the first collection of short fiction available in English by the prolific Japanese writer and all-around avant-garde trickster Terayama Shūji, who died in 1983 at the age of 47. This collection would be important even if it wasn’t as good as it is: an introduction to the work of a creative colossus who helped define the Japanese counterculture in the 1960s and ’70s, leaving his mark not only on fiction and poetry, but also on photography, film, TV, radio, and the theater.
As it happens, Crimson Thread is thin but lovely, a gathering of very short wisps of stories that read sometimes as cracked postmodernist fables, sometimes as bemused and irreverent prose poems à la James Tate (Terayama actually started out as a tanka poet, bent on upending that most self-consciously refined of ancient aristocratic traditions). Terayama’s work thus anticipated both the rise of flash fiction and the resurgence of the fairy tale as a medium for serious writing. In his fictive world, puppets fall in love and make their owners jealous, lovers turn into birds at the wrong time, and pictures jump out of magazines to warn readers about the perils of desire. It is a world of chance and unintended consequences, where the boundaries between imagination and reality are porous, and wishes are both beautiful and dangerous.
For the rest of the review, go here.Tweet
This Thursday, May 21st at 7pm, I’ll be moderating a conversation at Albertine Book Store (972 Fifth Ave., NYC) with Jean Findlay and Esther Allen about the life and work of two celebrated translators: C. K. Scott Moncrieff and Michael Henry Heim. You should come!
While C. K. Scott Moncrieff’s work has shaped our understanding of Proust’s seven-volume masterpiece—published as Remembrance of Things Past—he has remained hidden behind the genius of the man whose reputation he helped build. In this biography, Chasing Lost Time: The Life and Work of C. K. Scott Moncrieff, Jean Findlay—Scott Moncrieff’s great-great-niece—reveals a fascinating, tangled life.
Michael Henry Heim—one of the most respected translators of his generation—translated two-dozen works from eight different languages, including books by Milan Kundera, Dubravka Ugresic, Hugo Claus, and Anton Chekov. But Mike, as he was known to his legion of friends, was much more than that. His classes at UCLA on translation inspired a new generation of translators, and his work altering the way translation is viewed will impact the livelihood of translators for decades to come. The Man Between is both a homage to Mike and a useful book for anyone interested in translation.
The discussion is free and open to all, and no RSVP is necessary. For more information, see the event page on Albertine’s website.Tweet
For this week’s podcast, we invited Best Translated Book Award Fiction Chair Monica Carter on to talk about the finalists for this year’s awards. Monica graciously gave us some insight into the voting process, revealed which of the final ten was a “personal pick” of one of the judges, and managed to make us second guess who we thought would win the award.
Additionally, we talked about the differences between the UK vs. U.S. book scenes, and had some rants, raves, and sports talk.
REMINDER: Next week, Feminist Press editor Julia Berner-Tobin will be our guest to discuss “Apocalypse Baby” by Virginie Despentes, translated from the French by Siân Reynolds, the latest book in the Three Percent Book Club. Go out and get a copy! It’s a fast, vicious read, and if you have any questions for the three of us, send them to email@example.com by Tuesday morning.
ANOTHER REMINDER: Our 100th episode is coming up, and to celebrate, we’d like to do one that’s all about “listener appreciation.” So send any and all comments and questions to firstname.lastname@example.org—we’ll answer anything you’d like . . .
This week’s music is Waste the Alphabet from the new Dick Diver album. (Dick Diver being a reference to Fitzgerald’s Tender Is the Night.)
And you can email us with complaints and comments at email@example.com
There’s little to say about a series of prose poems that willfully refuse to identify pronoun antecedents. Or perhaps there are a million things. The poems in _Morse, My Deaf Friend_— the chapbook by Miloš Djurdjević published by Ugly Duckling. . .
The Crimson Thread of Abandon is the first collection of short fiction available in English by the prolific Japanese writer and all-around avant-garde trickster Terayama Shūji, who died in 1983 at the age of 47. This collection would be important. . .
Last year, NYRB Classics introduced English-language readers to Catalan writer Josep Pla with Peter Bush’s translation of The Gray Notebook. In that book, Pla wrote about life in Spain during an influenza outbreak soon after World War I, when. . .
“Your bile is stagnant, you see sorrow in everything, you are drenched in melancholy,” my friend the doctor said.
bq. “Isn’t melancholy something from previous centuries? Isn’t some vaccine against it yet, hasn’t medicine taken care of it yet?” I. . .
What to make of Vano and Niko, the English translation of Erlom Akhvlediani’s work of the same name, as well as the two other short books that comprise a sort of trilogy? Quick searches will inform the curious reader that. . .
The opening of Jón Gnarr’s novel/memoir The Indian is a playful bit of extravagant ego, telling the traditional story of creation, where the “Let there be light!” moment is also the moment of his birth on January 2nd, 1967. Then. . .
Mahasweta Devi is not only one of the most prolific Bengali authors, but she’s also an important activist. In fact, for Devi, the two seem to go together. As you can probably tell from the titles, she writes about women. . .
The prolific Spanish author Benito Pérez Galdós wrote his short novel, Tristana, during the closing years of the nineteenth century, a time when very few options were available to women of limited financial means who did not want a husband.. . .
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. . .