ROCHESTER, N.Y.—This year's finalists for an annual award created by Three Percent at the University of Rochester to recognize the best original translations of fiction and poetry from around the world were announced yesterday at a special reception at Idlewild Books in New York City.
"This is definitely the most diverse and interesting group of finalists yet," said Chad W. Post, director of Three Percent and Open Letter Books. "Writers from all over the world are represented here, as are a range of large and small publishers. It's great to see such a healthy mix of more 'known' authors along with some new voices. I think both panels did a great job identifying the best of the best of international literature published last year. One could use these lists as a primer for learning about contemporary world lit." Appearing on this year's fiction list is Jan Kjaerstad's The Discoverer, translated from the Norwegian by Barbara Haveland and published by Open Letter Books.
Introduction to Open Letter from Chad Post, Director of Open Letter and Three Percent
The Best Translated Book Award was created in 2007 by the University of Rochester's translation-centric Web site Three Percent and is awarded to the best original translations of fiction and poetry published the previous December to November. No retranslations or reprints are eligible for the award, the criteria for which consists of the quality of the original book itself, the artistry of the English translation, and the overall presentation by the publishing house.
According to Bowker and other sources, less than 3% of all books published in America are works translated into English. And in terms of just fiction and poetry, fewer than 350 original, never-before-translated titles came out in 2009. One of the goals of the award is to draw attention to the interesting and important titles that did make their way into English, and which can help expand the horizons of American readers and writers.
As Novey, the chair of the poetry committee, stated: "When poets translate and read poetry in translation, they infuse both their own poetry and that of poets writing all over the country with new energy and imagery and sounds. The more poetry we translate in this country, the more exciting our poetry will get."
Summaries of all 10 fiction finalists can be found on the Three Percent Web site (rochester.edu/threepercent), and each of the 10 poetry titles will be featured there starting on Monday, Feb. 22. The winners in both categories will be announced on March 10 at an event at Idlewild Books at 12 W. 19th St., New York; idlewildbooks.com.
This year's fiction judges are: Monica Carter (Skylight Books and Salonica World Lit); Scott Esposito (Conversational Reading and Center for the Art of Translation); Susan Harris (Words Without Borders); Annie Janusch (translator); Brandon Kennedy (Spoonbill & Sugartown); Bill Marx (PRI's The World: World Books); Michael Orthofer (Complete Review); Chad W. Post (Open Letter and Three Percent); and Jeff Waxman (Seminary Co-op and The Front Table).
The poetry judges are: Brandon Holmquest (poet, translator, editor of CALQUE); Jennifer Kronovet (poet, translator, editor of Circumference), Idra Novey (poet, translator, Executive Director of the Center for Literary Translation at Columbia University); Kevin Prufer (poet, academic, essayist, and co-editor of New European Poets); and Matthew Zapruder (poet, transaltor, academic, and co-editor of Wave Books).
The 10 fiction finalists are (in alphabetical order):
César Aira, Ghosts.
Translated from the Spanish by Chris Andrews.
(Argentina, New Directions)
Gerbrand Bakker, The Twin.
Translated from the Dutch by David Colmer.
Ignácio de Loyola Brandão, Anonymous Celebrity.
Translated from the Portuguese by Nelson Vieira.
(Brazil, Dalkey Archive)
Hugo Claus, Wonder.
Translated from the Dutch by
Michael Henry Heim.
Wolf Haas, The Weather Fifteen Years Ago.
Translated from the German by
Stephanie Gilardi and Thomas S. Hansen.
(Austria, Ariadne Press)
Gail Hareven, The Confessions of Noa Weber.
Translated from the Hebrew by Dalya Bilu.
(Israel, Melville House)
Jan Kjærstad, The Discoverer.
Translated from the Norwegian
by Barbara Haveland.
(Norway, Open Letter Books)
Sigizmund Krzhizhanovsky, Memories of the Future.
Translated from the Russian by Joanne Turnbull.
(Russia, New York Review Books)
José Manuel Prieto, Rex.
Translated from the Spanish by Esther Allen.
Robert Walser, The Tanners.
Translated from the German by Susan Bernofsky.
(Switzerland, New Directions)
The ten poetry finalists are (in alphabetical order):
Nicole Brossard, Selections.
Translated from the French by Guy Bennett, David
Dea, Barbara Godard, Pierre Joris, Robert Majzels,
Erin Moure, Jennifer Moxley, Lucille Nelson, Larry
Shouldice, Fred Wah, Lisa Weil, Anne-Marie Wheeler.
(Canada, University of California)
René Char, The Brittle Age and Returning Upland.
Translated from the French by Gustaf Sobin.
Mahmoud Darwish, If I Were Another.
Translated from the Arabic by Fady Joudah.
Elena Fanailova, The Russian Version.
Translated from the Russian by
Genya Turovskaya and Stephanie Sandler.
(Russia, Ugly Duckling Presse)
Hiromi Ito, Killing Kanoko.
Translated from the Japanese by Jeffrey Angles.
(Japan, Action Books)
Marcelijus Martinaitis, KB: The Suspect.
Translated from the Lithuanian by Laima Vince.
(Lithuania, White Pine)
Heeduk Ra, Scale and Stairs.
Translated from the Korean by
Woo-Chung Kim and Christopher Merrill.
(Korea, White Pine)
Novica Tadic, Dark Things.
Translated from the Serbian by Charles Simic.
(Serbia, BOA Editions)
Liliana Ursu, Lightwall.
Translated from the Romanian by Sean Cotter.
(Romania, Zephyr Press)
Wei Ying-wu, In Such Hard Times.
Translated from the Chinese by Red Pine.
(China, Copper Canyon)
Information about these titles and all of the books on the fiction longlist, can be found online at Three Percent (www.rochester.edu/threepercent). For additional information about the award, panelists, or event, please contact Chad W. Post at 585.319.0823 or firstname.lastname@example.org.