15 April 14 | Chad W. Post | Comments

Following last week’s announcement that the Best Translated Book Awards won “The International Literary Translation Initiative Award”: as part of the inaugural LBF Book Excellence Awards, today we’re announcing the 2014 finalists for both poetry and fiction.

There’s a lot to consider with these longlists, but rather than overload these posts with commentary and observations, I’ll save that for other entries and just let the final twenty books stand on their own.

First up, the poetry selections, which were decided up by an amazing committee of poets and translators: Stefania Heim, Bill Martin, Rebecca McKay, Daniele Pantano, and Anna Rosenwong.

In alphabetical order:

Relocations: 3 Contemporary Russian Women Poets by Polina Barskova, Anna Glazova, and Maria Stepanova, translated from the Russian by Catherine Ciepiela, Anna Khasin, and Sibelan Forrester (Russia; Zephyr Press)

The Guest in the Wood by Elisa Biagini, translated from the Italian by Diana Thow, Sarah Stickney, and Eugene Ostashevsky (Italy; Chelsea Editions)

The Unknown University by Roberto Bolaño, translated from the Spanish by Laura Healy (Chile, New Directions)

White Piano by Nicole Brossard, translated from the French by Robert Majzels and Erin Mouré (Canada; Coach House Press)

Murder by Danielle Collobert, translated from the French by Nathanaël (France; Litmus Press)

In the Moremarrow by Oliverio Girondo, translated from the Spanish by Molly Weigel (Argentina; Action Books)

Paul Klee’s Boat by Anzhelina Polonskaya, translated from the Russian by Andrew Wachtel (Russia; Zephyr Press)

Four Elemental Bodies by Claude Royet-Journoud, translated from the French by Keith Waldrop (France; Burning Deck)

The Oasis of Now by Sohrab Sepehri, translated from the Persian by Kazim Ali and Mohammad Jafar Mahallati (Iran; BOA Editions)

His Days Go By the Way Her Years by Ye Mimi, translated from the Chinese by Steve Bradbury (Taiwan; Anomalous Press)

1 March 10 | Chad W. Post | Comments

Over the next five days, we’ll be featuring each of the ten titles from this year’s Best Translated Book Award poetry shortlist. Click here for all past write-ups.

Selections by Nicole Brossard. Translated from the French by Guy Bennett, David Dea, Barbara Godard, Pierre Joris, Robert Majzels and Erin Moure, Jennifer Moxley, Lucille Nelson, Larry Shouldice, Fred Wah, Lisa Weil, and Anne-Marie Wheeler. (Canada, University of California)

This guest post is by Idra Novey—poet, translator, executive director of the Center for Literary Translation at Columbia University. Idra also served as chair of the poetry committee, and did an amazing job keeping things organized and on time. I know how hard this can be . . . But wow, the poetry committee seemed to run even smoother than the fiction one . . .

In a 1998 essay, the Canadian writer Nicole Brossard declared that she liked to keep herself in the untranslatable, at the limit between “I exist” and the poem on the page. For Brossard’s translators in this superb selected collection of her work, she presented the challenge of how to recreate that untranslatable voice in English and to assume that by “untranslatable” Brossard meant the impossibility of translating the full complexity of sensation into any language, as opposed to between languages.

The various translators who contributed to this book make a strong case for this interpretation. Throughout the selections, the translations recreate all the lively complexity and lyricism of Brossard’s investigation of language and its limits as she presents them in French. In an excerpt from Shadow: Soft Et Soif, translated by Guy Bennett, Brossard writes:

a few night syllables
through leafy words
let’s watch
our dream muscles move
our eyes outstripped by nostalgia
let’s watch
tears, palms and fists like thirst
the ever vague idea that living is
necessarily a plus dans le langage

Through the driving rhythm of the repetitions here and the lyrical specificity of “dream muscles” and “fists like thirst,” Bennett’s translation gives the reader a rich sense of the pleasure and mystery of Brossard’s work. Well-known as an essayist and novelist as well, the selections in this book include several essays and interviews along with a long series of prose poems translated by Lucille Nelson in which Brossard speaks in a section called Ultrasounds of “navigating at night by means of milky arms and igniters of syntax.”

As in the poem excerpted above, Brossard has a wonderful talent for mixing evocative bodily descriptions of milky arms with abstracts like “syntax.” Her poetry is avant-garde but not to the point that her experimentation makes any discernible meaning hard to grasp. Brossard is a poet, as she says in an essay at the end of collection, interested in “vision” rather than “subversion,” in speaking with clarity about where patriarchy, language, and sexuality converge and explode. That explosion, and the untranslatable place in which Brossard likes to keep herself, are wholly present in these excellent translations.

The Odyssey
The Odyssey by Homer
Reviewed by Peter Constantine

Now goddess, child of Zeus,
tell the old story for our modern times.

–(The Odyssey, Book I, line 10. Emily Wilson)

In literary translation of works from other eras, there are always two basic tasks that a translator needs. . .

Read More >

I Remember Nightfall
I Remember Nightfall by Marosa di Giorgio
Reviewed by Talia Franks

I Remember Nightfall by Marosa di Giorgio (trans. From the Spanish by Jeannine Marie Pitas) is a bilingual poetry volume in four parts, consisting of the poems “The History of Violets,” “Magnolia,” “The War of the Orchards,” and “The Native. . .

Read More >

Joyce y las gallinas
Joyce y las gallinas by Anna Ballbona
Reviewed by Brendan Riley

This review was originally published as a report on the book at New Spanish Books, and has been reprinted here with permission of the reviewer. The book was originally published in the Catalan by Anagrama as Joyce i les. . .

Read More >

Lost in Translation: An Illustrated Compendium of Untranslatable Words from Around the World
Lost in Translation: An Illustrated Compendium of Untranslatable Words from Around the World by Ella Frances Sanders
Reviewed by Kaija Straumanis

Hello and greetings in the 2017 holiday season!

For those of you still looking for something to gift a friend or family member this winter season, or if you’re on the lookout for something to gift in the. . .

Read More >

The Size of the World
The Size of the World by Branko Anđić
Reviewed by Jaimie Lau

Three generations of men—a storyteller, his father and his son—encompass this book’s world. . . . it is a world of historical confusion, illusion, and hope of three generations of Belgraders.

The first and last sentences of the first. . .

Read More >

Island of Point Nemo
Island of Point Nemo by Jean-Marie Blas de Roblès
Reviewed by Katherine Rucker

The Island of Point Nemo is a novel tour by plane, train, automobile, blimp, horse, and submarine through a world that I can only hope is what Jean-Marie Blas de Roblès’s psyche looks like, giant squids and all.

What. . .

Read More >

The Truce
The Truce by Mario Benedetti
Reviewed by Adrianne Aron

Mario Benedetti (1920-2009), Uruguay’s most beloved writer, was a man who loved to bend the rules. He gave his haikus as many syllables as fit his mood, and wrote a play divided into sections instead of acts. In his country,. . .

Read More >