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Can Xue, Rocío Cerón win 2015 Best Translated Book Awards

May 27, 2015
book covers for The Last Lover and Diorama

The eighth annual Best Translated Book Awards were announced at BookExpo America on Wednesday, May 27, with Chinese author Can Xue’s The Last Lover taking home the award for fiction, and Spanish poet Rocío Cerón’s Diorama winning for poetry.

Organized by Three Percent at the University of Rochester, the Best Translated Book Award (BTBA) is the only prize of its kind to honor the best original works of international literature and poetry published in the United States over the previous year. Each of the winning authors and translators will be given $5,000 in cash prizes from Amazon.com’s giving program.

“I believe this is the most beautiful thing that has happened in my whole life,” said winner Xue. “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 this year’s jury, Xue’s The Last Lover translated by Annelise Finegan, was the most radical and uncompromising of this year’s finalists, pushing the novel form into bold new territory. Published by Yale University Press, the book “takes readers on a journey through a dream world as strange yet disquietingly familiar as Kafka’s Amerika,” said Monica Carter, chair of the BTBA fiction committee. If Orientalists describe an East that exists only in the Western imagination, Xue describes “its shadow, offering a beguiling dream of a Chinese West. In addition, Annelise Finegan Wasmoen’s translation succeeds in crafting a powerful English voice for a writer of singular imagination and insight,” said Carter.

The jury also named three runners-up in fiction: Harlequin’s Millions by Bohumil Hrabal, translated from 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 Spanish by Christina MacSweeney and published by Coffee House Press, for the “exceptional promise demonstrated by its young author”; and Those Who Leave and Those Who Stay by Elena Ferrante, translated from Italian by Ann Goldstein and published by Europa Editions, for its “vibrant characters and sweeping narrative power.”

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 Hungarian by Ottilie Mulzet and George Szirtes, respectively; Stone Upon Stone by Wiesław Myśliwski, translated from Polish by Bill Johnston; and, The True Deceiver by Tove Jansson, translated from Swedish by Thomas Teal. Jansson and Teal are the only author and translator on this year’s fiction shortlist who previously won the award.

The nine judges who made up this year’s fiction jury are: 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).

This year’s poetry winner, Cerón’s Diorama, was translated from Spanish by Anna Rosenwong and published by Phoneme Media. “We congratulate 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,” said David Shook, the co-founder and editorial director of Phoneme. “We are incredibly grateful for the support of the BTBA’s judges and organizers, Three Percent and Chad Post, to our fellow shortlisted publishing houses, translators, and authors, and to our readers around the world.”

Past poetry award winners include of the award The Guest in the Wood by Elisa Biagini, translated from Italian by Diana Thow, Sarah Stickney, and Eugene Ostashevsky; Wheel with a Single Spoke by Nichita Stănescu, translated from Romanian by Sean Cotter; and Spectacle & Pigsty by Kiwao Nomura, translated from Japanese by Kyoko Yoshida and Forrest Gander.

This year’s poetry jury consisted of judges: 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).

For more information, visit Three Percent, the official Best Translated Book Award site and the official BTBA Facebook page, and follow the award on Twitter. For detailed questions, contact Post at chad.post@rochester.edu or 585.319.0823.

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Category: The Arts