University of Rochester

2013 Best Translated Book Award Finalists Announced

April 11, 2013

The fiction and poetry shortlists for the 2013 Best Translated Book Awards (BTBA) were revealed simultaneously on Three Percent, an online resource for International Literature at the University of Rochester, and Poetry Foundation websites on Wednesday, April 10.

A testament to the diversity of books available to English readers, the lists of finalists include poets from China, Romania, and Macedonia, and prose writers from Djibouti, Russia, Iran, and Argentina. Additionally, 12 different publishers have titles represented among the finalists, including Metropolitan Books (part of MacMillan) and Canarium Books (established by the University of Michigan MFA Program in Creative Writing).

The highlights of the fiction finalists include The Hunger Angel by Nobel Prize winner Herta Müller, Satantango by Hungarian powerhouse László Krasznahorkai, A Breath of Life by the departed Brazilian author Clarice Lispector, and Maidenhair by Russia's most praised contemporary author, Mikhail Shishkin.

Among the poetry works, Chinese standout Xi Chuan's Notes of the Mosquito made the list, along with Johannes Göransson's ambitiously creative translation of Aase Berg's Transfer Fat, and Nobel Prize nominee Nichita Stanescu's Wheel with a Single Spoke.

Information about all of the finalists and the reasons "why they should win" the award are available at the official Best Translated Book Award website and on Three Percent.

The winning works of poetry and fiction will be announced at 5:30 p.m. on Friday, May 3, as part of the PEN World Voices/CLMP Fest event taking place in the Washington Mews area of New York City.

Once again, is supporting the BTBA this year through its giving program, providing the prize money so that the winning authors and translators will each receive a $5,000 cash prize. The BTBA is one of several non-profit programs supported by that is focused on bringing more great works from around the world to English-language readers. Other recipients include the PEN American Center Translation Fund, Worlds Without Borders, Open Letter, the Center for the Art of Translation, Archipelago Books, and the Ledig House International Writers Residency.

This year's judging panels had an exceptionally difficult task of evaluating approximately 360 works of fiction and 50 poetry collections—the largest number of entries to date.

The 2013 fiction panel consists of Monica Carter, Salonica; Tess Doering Lewis, translator and critic; Scott Esposito, Conversational Reading and Center for the Art of Translation; Susan Harris, Words Without Borders; Bill Martin, translator; Bill Marx, Arts Fuse; Michael Orthofer, Complete Review; Stephen Sparks, Green Apple Books; and Jenn Witte, Skylight Books.

For poetry, the panelists are: Brandon Holmquest, poet, translator, editor of CALQUE; Jennifer Kronovet, poet and translator; John Marshall, owner, Open Books: A Poem Emporium; Erica Mena-Landry, poet and translator; Idra Novey, poet and translator; Kevin Prufer, poet, academic, essayist, and co-editor of New European Poets; and Russell Valentino, academic, translator, director of Autumn Hill Books and Iowa Review.

The Best Translated Book Awards launched in 2007 as a way of bringing attention to great works of international literature. Original translations (no reprints or retranslations) published between January 2012 and December 2012 are eligible for this year's award. Quality of the original book and the artistry of the English translation are the criteria used in determining the winning titles.

The 2013 BTBA Fiction Finalists (in alphabetical order by author):

The Planets by Sergio Chejfec (Argentina).
Translated from the Spanish by Heather Cleary.
(Open Letter Books)

Prehistoric Times by Eric Chevillard (France)
Translated from the French by Alyson Waters.
(Archipelago Books)

The Colonel by Mahmoud Dowlatabadi (Iran).
Translated from the Persian by Tom Patterdale.
(Melville House)

Satantango by László Krasznahorkai (Hungary).
Translated from the Hungarian by George Szirtes.
(New Directions)

Autoportrait by Edouard Levé (France).
Translated from the French by Lorin Stein.
(Dalkey Archive Press)

A Breath of Life: Pulsations by Clarice Lispector (Brazil).
Translated from the Portuguese by Johnny Lorenz.
(New Directions)

The Hunger Angel by Herta Müller (Romania).
Translated from the German by Philip Boehm.
(Metropolitan Books)

Maidenhair by Mikhail Shishkin (Russia).
Translated from the Russian by Marian Schwartz.
(Open Letter Books)

Transit by Abdourahman A. Waberi (Djibouti).
Translated from the French by David Ball and Nicole Ball.
(Indiana University Press)

My Father's Book by Urs Widmer (Switzerland).
Translated from the German by Donal McLaughlin.
(Seagull Books)

The 2013 BTBA Poetry Finalists (in alphabetical order by author):

Transfer Fat by Aase Berg (Sweden).
Translated from the Swedish by Johannes Göransson.
(Ugly Duckling Presse)

pH Neutral History by Lidija Dimkovska (Macedonia).
Translated from the Macedonian
by Ljubica Arsovska and Peggy Reid.
(Copper Canyon Press)

The Invention of Glass by Emmanuel Hocquard (France).
Translated from the French by
Cole Swensen and Rod Smith.
(Canarium Books)

Wheel with a Single Spoke by Nichita Stanescu (Romania).
Translated from the Romanian by Sean Cotter.
(Archipelago Books)

Notes on the Mosquito by Xi Chuan (China).
Translation from the Chinese by Lucas Klein.
(New Directions)

Almost 1 Book / Almost 1 Life by Elfriede Czurda (Austria).
Translated from the German by Rosmarie Waldrop.
(Burning Deck)

Information about these titles and the awards can be found online at Three Percent. For additional information about the awards, panelists, or event, please contact Chad W. Post at or 585.319.0823.