University of Rochester

EVENT: '2009 Best Translated Book Awards' to be Announced on Feb. 19

February 13, 2009

Three Percent Names 10 Fiction and 10 Poetry Finalists

The 2009 Best Translated Book Awards will be announced at a reception on Feb. 19, 2009, at Melville House Books in Brooklyn, N.Y. The event is open to the public.

The award is the only honor in America for international literature that is given to the book itself, according to Chad Post, director of Three Percent and Open Letter (, the University of Rochester's literary press that publishes works of translation. The 10 poetry and 10 fiction finalists were announced recently by Three Percent (, a blog and review Web site dedicated to books in translation.

Narrowing down the long list of nominees was quite a challenge, according to Post. Selected by a noted panel of literary editors, reviewers, and booksellers from the international publishing community, the finalists include translations from the original Arabic, French, German, Dutch, Spanish, and Hungarian. "There were so many good books that came out this year, it's going to be tricky picking a single winner," said Post. "The books are all very different, and nicely illustrate the wide range of literature in translation available to American readers."

While there are awards given to translators of specific languages, such as the French-American Translation Award, until now there hasn't been a prize that honors the actual book in translation—what Post calls the "complete package"—taking into consideration the work of the original writer, translator, editor, and publisher who brought the work to the American public.

The awards presentation at Melville House Books will be hosted by Francisco Goldman, author, critic, translator, and all around supporter of international literature. "It will be an opportunity to honor and celebrate the translators, editors, publishers, and other literary supporters who help make literature from other cultures available to American readers," said Post.

The 10 fiction finalists are (in alphabetical order by author): Tranquility by Attila Bartis, translated from the Hungarian by Imre Goldstein (Archipelago) 2666 by Roberto Bolaño, translated from the Spanish by Natasha Wimmer (Farrar, Straus & Giroux); Nazi Literature in the Americas by Roberto Bolaño, translated from the Spanish by Chris Andrews (New Directions); Voice Over by Céline Curiol, translated from the French by Sam Richard (Seven Stories); The Darkroom of Damocles by Willem Frederik Hermans, translated from the Dutch by Ina Rilke (Overlook); Yalo by Elias Khoury, translated from the Arabic by Peter Theroux (Archipelago); Senselessness by Horacio Castellanos Moya, translated from the Spanish by Katherine Silver (New Directions); Unforgiving Years by Victor Serge, translated from the French by Richard Greeman (New York Review Books); Bonsai by Alejandro Zambra, translated from the Spanish by Carolina De Robertis (Melville House); and The Post-Office Girl by Stefan Zweig, translated from the German by Joel Rotenberg (New York Review Books).

The 10 poetry finalists are (in alphabetical order by author): Essential Poems and Writings by Robert Desnos, translated from the French by Mary Ann Caws, Terry Hale, Bill Zavatsky, Martin Sorrell, Jonathan Eburne, Katherine Connelly, Patricia Terry, and Paul Auster (Black Widow); You Are the Business by Caroline Dubois, translated from the French by Cole Swensen (Burning Deck); As It Turned Out by Dmitry Golynko, translated from the Russian by Eugene Ostashevsky, Rebecca Bella, and Simona Schneider (Ugly Duckling); For the Fighting Spirit of the Walnut by Takashi Hiraide, translated from the Japanese by Sawako Nakayasu (New Directions); Poems of A.O. Barnabooth by Valery Larbaud, translated from the French by Ron Padgett and Bill Zavatsky (Black Widow); Night Wraps the Sky by Vladimir Mayakovsky, translated from the Russian by Katya Apekina, Val Vinokur, and Matvei Yankelevich, and edited by Michael Almereyda (Farrar, Straus & Giroux); A Different Practice by Fredrik Nyberg, translated from the Swedish by Jennifer Hayashida (Ugly Duckling); EyeSeas by Raymond Queneau, translated from the French by Daniela Hurezanu and Stephen Kessler (Black Widow); Peregrinary by Eugeniusz Tkaczyszyn-Dycki, translated from the Polish by Bill Johnston (Zephyr); and Eternal Enemies by Adam Zagajewski, translated from the Polish by Clare Cavanagh (Farrar, Straus & Giroux).

For additional information about the award, panelists, and selected titles please contact Chad W. Post at 585.319.0823, or