University of Rochester

2012 Best Translated Book Award Finalists: Fiction and Poetry

April 11, 2012

April 11, 2012—On Tuesday evening, the poetry and fiction finalists for the 2012 Best Translated Book Awards were announced during a special event at the University of Rochester and on Three Percent, the University's translation-centric website.

"In previous years, there was much less consensus than we saw this year when choosing a list. That 11 very different readers have all found these books so exceptional speaks volumes about the incredible appeal of the shortlist— this is some of the best fiction of the year, in any language," said fiction committee member Jeff Waxman.

Highlights from this year's fiction list include Jean Echenoz's Lightning, translated from the French by Linda Coverdale; Magdalena Tulli's In Red, translated from the Polish by Bill Johnston; and Enrique Vila-Matas's Never Any End to Paris, translated from the Spanish by Anne McLean. Notable poetry finalists include Anja Utler's engulf—enkindle, translated from the German by Kurt Beals; and Amal al-Jubouri's Hagar Before the Occupation, Hagar After the Occupation, translated from the Arabic by Rebecca Gayle Howell with Husam Qaisi.

"We had an especially strong selection of books this year," said BTBA poetry committee member Idra Novey, "and from a wider range of presses, many of them publishing translations of contemporary poets for the first time, including Alice James Books and Canarium Books, both of which ended up with a finalist on this year's list."

The Best Translated Book Awards launched in 2007 as a way of bringing attention to great works of international literature. Original translation (no reprints or retranslations) published between December 2010 and December 2011 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. Overviews of the 10 fiction finalists can be found at, and the poetry finalists will be featured there and on Three Percent beginning next week. Also available on are promotional posters and shelf-talkers that booksellers can download for free.

The BTBA winners will be announced on Friday, May 4, at 6 p.m. at McNally Jackson Books in New York City as part of the PEN World Voices Festival. More details about the celebration will be available in late April.

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, Words Without Borders, Open Letter, the Center for the Art of Translation, Archipelago Books, and the Ledig House International Writers Residency.

This year's fiction judges are: 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).

The poetry judges are: Brandon Holmquest (poet, translator, editor Asymptote Journal), Jennifer Kronovet (poet, translator), Erica Mena (poet, translator, host of the Reading the World Podcast), Idra Novey (poet, translator), and Kevin Prufer (poet, academic, essayist).

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

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

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

Kornél Esti by Dezsõ Kosztolanyi.
Translated from the Hungarian by Bernard Adams.
(New Directions)

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

New Finnish Grammar by Diego Marani.
Translated from the Italian by Judith Landry.

Stone Upon Stone by Wieslaw Mysliwski.
Translated from the Polish by Bill Johnston.
(Archipelago Books)

Scars by Juan Jose 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)

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)

The 2012 BTBA Poetry Finalists (in alphabetical order by author):

Hagar Before the Occupation, Hagar After the Occupation
by Amal al-Jubouri.
Translated from the Arabic
by Rebecca Gayle Howell with Husam Qaisi.
(Alice James Books)

Last Verses by Jules Laforgue.
Translated from the French by Donald Revell.

Spectacle & Pigsty by Kiwao Nomura.
Translated from the Japanese
by Kyoko Yoshida and Forrest Gander.

A Fireproof Box by Gleb Shulpyakov
Translated from the Russian by Christopher Mattison
(Canarium Books)

engulf—enkindle by Anja Utler.
Translation from the German by Kurt Beals.
(Burning Deck)

False Friends by Uljana Wolf.
Translated from the German by Susan Bernofsky.
(Ugly Duckling Presse)

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