28 February 12 | Chad W. Post

I was really excited to get the longlist from the judges last Thursday. Having removed myself entirely from the process, it was as much of a surprise to me as it is for anyone reading this. And after spending a few days going over it, checking off the titles I’ve read, and the ones I want to read, I have to say that this is a pretty impressive group of books, with French lit being the big winner.

As is mentioned below in the announcement/press release, starting next Monday we’ll feature a book a day from this list, with info about the translator and author, the text itself, and lots of unscientific explanations for why each particular title deserves to win the award.

Also, as a special tease, be sure and listen to this week’s Three Percent Podcast. Ed Nawotka—one of the BTBA fiction judges—joined me and Tom to talk about the list, literature in general, Murakami and his mediocre 1Q84, Arsenal’s thumping of Tottenham, and other sundry matters. But like with the podcast that Garth Hallberg was on, this one is more literary than usual, and a lot cleaner.

On with the announcing:

February 28, 2012—The 25-title fiction longlist for the 2012 Best Translated Book Awards was announced this afternoon. This is the fifth year for the BTBA, which launched in 2007 as a way of highlighting the best works of international literature published in the U.S. in the previous year.

Featuring authors from 14 countries writing in 12 languages, this year’s fiction longlist illustrates the prize’s dedication to literary diversity, ranging from works by established and classic authors, such as Moacyr Scliar’s Kafka’s Leopards and Imre Kertesz’s Fiasco, to works by emerging voices, like Johan Harstad’s Buzz Aldrin, What Happened to You in All the Confusion?, and Inka Parei’s The Shadow-Boxing Woman.

The longlist also includes an eclectic mix of translators, from Steve Dolph—whose translation of Juan José Saer’s Scars is his second full-length publication—to world-renowned translators Bill Johnston—who has two entries on this list, Stone Upon Stone by Wiesław Myśliwski and In Red by Magdalena Tulli. As in years past, the list is dominated by smaller independent publishers, such as Dedalus, Seagull Books, Melville House, and Archipelago Books, although a number of larger houses—like W.W. Norton, Knopf, and Bloomsbury—are also represented.

“We had such a difficult time culling this year’s longlist down to just twenty-five titles,” said fiction judge Gwendolyn Dawson. “Although a small percentage of books published in the U.S. each year are original translations, those books are generally excellent and unique. We are excited by this year’s strong longlist and daunted by the task of narrowing the list to a shortlist of only ten titles.”

Books eligible for this year’s award include titles published between December 1, 2010 and December 31, 2011 that have never before appeared in English translation in any form. Selection criteria include both the quality of the book itself and the quality of the translation, with the goal of honoring translators and authors for their joint effort in making future classics of world literature available to English readers.

This year’s set of judges consists of Monica Carter (Salonica), Gwendolyn Dawson (Literary License), Scott Esposito (Conversational Reading and Center for the Art of Translation), Susan Harris (Words Without Borders), Annie Janusch (Translation Review), Matthew Jakubowski (writer & critic), Brandon Kennedy (bookseller/cataloger), Bill Marx (PRI’s The World: World Books), Edward Nawotka (Publishing Perspectives), Michael Orthofer (Complete Review), and Jeff Waxman (Seminary Co-op and University of Chicago Press).

For the second consecutive year, Three Percent is also proud to announce that Amazon.com is supporting the awards through a $25,000 grant that will provide $5,000 cash prizes to all of the winning authors and translators, as well as $5,000 to bring the judges to New York for the awards ceremony.

The 10-title fiction shortlist will be announced on Tuesday, April 10th, concurrent with the announcement of the finalists for the poetry award. Winners in both categories will be announced in New York City, as part of the PEN World Voices Festival. (Details TK.)

More details about the awards ceremony will be made available in coming weeks. In the meantime, Three Percent will highlight one book a day from the fiction longlist, with features written by translators, reviewers, and editors about the singular qualities of each title, and “why it should win.”

The 2012 BTBA Fiction Longlist (in alphabetical order by author):

Leeches by David Albahari
Translated from the Serbian by Ellen Elias-Bursać
(Houghton Mifflin Harcourt)

My Two Worlds by Sergio Chejfec
Translated from the Spanish by Margaret B. Carson
(Open Letter)

Demolishing Nisard by Eric Chevillard
Translated from the French by Jordan Stump
(Dalkey Archive Press)

Private Property by Paule Constant
Translated from the French by Margot Miller and France Grenaudier-Klijn
(University of Nebraska Press)

Lightning by Jean Echenoz
Translated from the French by Linda Coverdale
(New Press)

Zone by Mathias Énard
Translated from the French by Charlotte Mandell
(Open Letter)

Buzz Aldrin, What Happened to You in All the Confusion? by Johan Harstad
Translated from the Norwegian by Deborah Dawkin
(Seven Stories)

Upstaged by Jacques Jouet
Translated from the French by Leland de la Durantaye
(Dalkey Archive Press)

Fiasco by Imre Kertész
Translated from the Hungarian by Tim Wilkinson
(Melville House)

Montecore by Jonas Hassen Khemiri
Translated from the Swedish by Rachel Willson-Broyles
(Knopf)

Kornél Esti by Dezső Kosztolányi
Translated from the Hungarian by Bernard Adams
(New Directions)

I Am a Japanese Writer by Dany Laferrière
Translated from the French by David Homel
(Douglas & MacIntyre)

Suicide by Edouard Levé
Translated from the French by Jan Steyn
(Dalkey Archive Press)

New Finnish Grammar by Diego Marani
Translated from the Italian by Judith Landry
(Dedalus)

Purgatory by Tomás Eloy Martínez
Translated from the Spanish by Frank Wynne
(Bloomsbury)

Stone Upon Stone by Wiesław Myśliwski
Translated from the Polish by Bill Johnston
(Archipelago Books)

Scenes from Village Life by Amos Oz
Translated from the Hebrew by Nicholas de Lange
(Houghton Mifflin Harcourt)

The Shadow-Boxing Woman by Inka Parei
Translated from the German by Katy Derbyshire
(Seagull Books)

Funeral for a Dog by Thomas Pletzinger
Translated from the German by Ross Benjamin
(W.W. Norton)

Scars by Juan José Saer
Translated from the Spanish by Steve Dolph
(Open Letter)

Kafka’s Leopards by Moacyr Scliar
Translated from the Portuguese by Thomas O. Beebee
(Texas Tech University Press)

Seven Years by Peter Stamm
Translated from the German by Michael Hofmann
(Other Press)

The Truth about Marie by Jean-Philippe Toussaint
Translated from the French by Matthew B. Smith
(Dalkey Archive Press)

In Red by Magdalena Tulli
Translated from the Polish by Bill Johnston
(Archipelago Books)

Never Any End to Paris by Enrique Vila-Matas
Translated from the Spanish by Anne McLean
(New Directions)

(Download a PDF of the full press release.)


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