The Best Translated Book Award 2019 longlists for both the fiction and poetry awards have been announced at The Millions. This is the twelfth year that the Best Translated Book Award has honored and celebrated literature in translation.
But maybe you’ve never heard of the Best Translated Book Award before! It’s one of the most interesting and diverse book awards out there. This year’s lists alone feature authors writing in sixteen different languages, from twenty-four different countries. And the presses! So many great presses. The majority are either independent or university presses. Are you looking for a book published by a small press for your Read Harder challenge? What about a book translated by a woman? This award is a great place to start!
I’ve been a fan of the Best Translated Book Award for years and was thrilled to be chosen as a member for this year’s fiction jury. More than 500 titles were eligible and it was an incredible year for international literature—I’m wildly excited to share these lists with you!
BEST TRANSLATED BOOK AWARD 2019 LONGLIST: FICTION
Congo Inc.: Bismarck’s Testament by In Koli Jean Bofane, translated from the French by Marjolijn de Jager(Democratic Republic of Congo, Indiana University Press)
The Hospital by Ahmed Bouanani, translated from the French by Lara Vergnaud (Morocco, New Directions)
A Dead Rose by Aurora Cáceres, translated from the Spanish by Laura Kanost (Peru, Stockcero)
Love in the New Millennium by Xue Can, translated from the Chinese by Annelise Finegan Wasmoen (China, Yale University Press)
Slave Old Man by Patrick Chamoiseau, translated from the French by Linda Coverdale (Martinique, New Press)
Wedding Worries by Stig Dagerman, translated from the Swedish by Paul Norlen and Lo Dagerman (Sweden, David Godine)
Pretty Things by Virginie Despentes, translated from the French by Emma Ramadan, (France, Feminist Press)
Disoriental by Negar Djavadi, translated from the French by Tina Kover (Iran, Europa Editions)
Dézafi by Frankétienne, translated from the French by Asselin Charles (published by Haiti, University of Virginia Press)
Bottom of the Sky by Rodrigo Fresán, translated from the Spanish by Will Vanderhyden (Argentina, Open Letter)
Bride and Groom by Alisa Ganieva, translated from the Russian by Carol Apollonio (Russia, Deep Vellum)
People in the Room by Norah Lange, translated from the Spanish by Charlotte Whittle (Argentina, And Other Stories)
Comemadre by Roque Larraquy, translated from the Spanish by Heather Cleary (Argentina, Coffee House)
Moon Brow by Shahriar Mandanipour, translated from the Persian by Khalili Sara (Iran, Restless Books)
Bricks and Mortar by Clemens Meyer, translated from the German by Katy Derbyshire (Germany, Fitzcarraldo Editions)
Convenience Store Woman by Sayaka Murata, translated from the Japanese by Ginny Tapley Takemori (Japan, Grove)
After the Winter by Guadalupe Nettel, translated from the Spanish by Rosalind Harvey (Mexico, Coffee House)
Transparent City by Ondjaki, translated from the Portuguese by Stephen Henighan (Angola, Biblioasis)
Lion Cross Point by Masatsugo Ono, translated from the Japanese by Angus Turvill (Japan, Two Lines Press)
The Governesses by Anne Serre, translated from the French by Mark Hutchinson (France, New Directions)
Öræfï: The Wasteland by Ófeigur Sigurðsson, translated from the Icelandic by Lytton Smith (Iceland, Deep Vellum)
Codex 1962 by Sjón, translated from the Icelandic by Victoria Cribb (Iceland, FSG)
Flights by Olga Tokarczuk, translated from the Polish by Jennifer Croft (Poland, Riverhead)
Fox by Dubravka Ugresic, translated from the Croatian by Ellen Elias-Bursac and David Williams (Croatia, Open Letter)
Seventeen by Hideo Yokoyama, translated from the Japanese by Louise Heal Kawai (Japan, FSG)
This year’s fiction jury is made up of: Pierce Alquist (Book Riot), Caitlin L. Baker (Island Books), Kasia Bartoszyńska (Monmouth College), Tara Cheesman (freelance book critic), George Carroll (litintranslation.com), Adam Hetherington (reader), Keaton Patterson (Brazos Bookstore), Sofia Samatar (writer), Ely Watson (A Room of One’s Own).
BEST TRANSLATED BOOK AWARD 2019 LONGLIST: POETRY
The Future Has an Appointment with the Dawn by Tenella Boni, translated from the French by Todd Fredson(Cote D’Ivoire, University of Nebraska)
Dying in a Mother Tongue by Roja Chamankar, translated from the Persian by Blake Atwood (Iran, University of Texas)
Moss & Silver by Jure Detela, translated from the Slovenian by Raymond Miller and Tatjana Jamnik (Slovenia, Ugly Duckling)
Of Death. Minimal Odes by Hilda Hilst, translated from the Portuguese by Laura Cesarco Eglin (Brazil, co-im-press)
Autobiography of Death by Kim Hysesoon, translated from the Korean by Don Mee Choi (Korea, New Directions)
Negative Space by Luljeta Lleshanaku, translated from the Albanian by Ani Gjika (Albania, New Directions)
Scardanelli by Frederike Mayrocker, translated from the German by Jonathan Larson (Austria, Song Cave)
the easiness and the loneliness by Asta Olivia Nordenhof, translated from the Danish by Susanna Nied(Denmark, Open Letter)
Nioque of the Early-Spring by Francis Ponge, translated from the French by Jonathan Larson (France, Song Cave)
Architecture of a Dispersed Life by Pable de Rokha, translated from the Spanish by Urayoán Noel (Chile, Shearsman Books)
The poetry jury includes: Jarrod Annis (Greenlight Bookstore), Katrine Øgaard Jensen (EuropeNow), Tess Lewis (writer and translator), Aditi Machado (poet and translator), and Laura Marris (writer and translator).
Founded in 2007, the Best Translated Book Award brings attention to the best works of translated literature published in the previous year. The winning author and translator each receive a $5,000 cash prize for both the fiction and poetry award, totaling $20,000 thanks to grant funds from the Amazon Literary Partnership.
For more information, visit the official Best Translated Book Award site and follow the award on Twitter. Over the next month, leading up to the announcement of the shortlists, Three Percent will be featuring a different title each day as part of the “Why This Book Should Win” series.
This post was originally published on Book Riot.
While looking over the titles I’ve read and enjoyed in the last few months that are eligible for the Best Translated Book Award, I noticed a pattern. There are a considerable number of Japanese titles! 2018 was a strong year for Japanese literature in translation and I’ve decided to highlight a few of the standouts from a group of amazingly talented and award-winning authors and translators.
Convenience Store Woman by Sayaka Murata, translated by Ginny Tapley Takemori
This book has gotten so much buzz and I have to add myself to its list of fans. Keiko Furukura has worked at a convenience store for 18 years, comfortable in the patterns and norms of the store and its customers but aware of her family and society’s general disappointment in her. When a young man enters her life she has the chance to change everything—if she wants to. From one of Japan’s most exciting contemporary writers, Convenience Store Woman is a dark, funny, and compelling novel with a heroine that defies convention and description.
The Lonesome Bodybuilder by Yukiko Motoya, translated by Asa Yoneda
I loved this collection of quirky and wonderful stories. Winner of the Akutagawa Prize and the Kenzaburo Oe Prize, Motoya is a magician—she takes mundane, daily life and just twists it into these amazingly strange and fantastic tales. In these stories, a newlywed notices that her husband’s features are sneakily sliding around his face to match hers, umbrellas are more than they seem, women are challenging their boyfriends to duels, and you might want to reconsider dating the girl next door. I’d recommend this collection to fans of Hiromi Kawakami and Carmen Maria Machado.
Ms Ice Sandwich by Mieko Kawakami, translated by Louise Heal Kawai
I’m a big fan of the Japanese novella series from Pushkin Press and of the three released in 2018 (The End of the Moment We Had, The Bear and the Paving Stone, and Ms Ice Sandwich) this one might be my favorite, but ask me again tomorrow and I’ll likely give you another answer. Ms Ice Sandwich is a tender coming-of-age story about a young boy’s adoration of the woman who sells sandwiches at his local supermarket. Ms Ice Sandwich, as he calls her, is gruff and aloof but our young narrator is fascinated by her eyes, “Ms Ice Sandwich’s eyelids are always painted with a thick layer of a kind of electric blue, exactly the same colour as those hard ice lollies that have been sitting in our freezer since last summer.” It’s a delightfully quirky and funny novella that nonetheless deals with some serious themes. The writing is subtle and engaging, deftly translated by Louise Heal Kawai.
Lion Cross Point by Masatsugu Ono, translated by Angus Turvill
Some books are hard to capture in a review and Lion Cross Point is one of them. This beautiful and haunting story is so much more than the sum of its parts, which include coming-of-age tale, sensitive portrayal of trauma and healing, and elements of a ghost story. The writing is poignant and unsettling but never sentimental and thoughtful ten-year-old Takeru is a child narrator who will stay with you past the reading of this book. Lion Cross Point is masterfully done by Masatsugu Ono and translator Angus Turvill and I’m shocked that this is the first time Ono has been published in English.
Seventeen by Hideo Yokoyama, translated by Louise Heal Kawai
Based on author Hideo Yokoyama’s own experiences, Seventeen is an intense and immersive newsroom drama that depicts the unfolding events at a local newspaper following the 1985 crash of Japan Airlines Flight 123—the deadliest single-aircraft accident in aviation history—right on their doorstep. It’s a fascinating and insightful account of newsroom politics and proceedings but it’s also a complex and thoughtful look at relationships, stress, grief, and the seen and unforeseen effects of a tragic event, even decades later. And I found that this post written by Louise Heal Kawai “On the Challenges of Translating Seventeen by Hideo Yokoyama” furthered my appreciation of this incredible book.
Last year was an astonishingly good year for literature in translation and after poring over catalogs and press releases I’m thrilled to say that it’s only going to continue in 2019! Newly released books from beloved authors like Roberto Bolaño’s The Spirit of Science Fiction and Clarice Lispector’s The Besieged City need no introduction and are sure to be highlights, but they don’t even scratch the surface. A new nordic crime series from Helene Tursten, returning favorites Samanta Schweblin and Han Kang, and exciting English-language debuts—you’ll have a hard time picking which book to start with. Check out these 2019 new releases in translation!
Samanta Schweblin, author of the literary sensation Fever Dream, returns with her first short story collection translated into English. Like Fever Dream, I was struck by the elusive, almost unsatisfactory nature of the stories. Some are strikingly short. Others are carefully crafted to confound. All leave you wanting more and thinking about them long after. Strange and fantastic, dark and disturbing, the stories in Mouthful of Birds are sure to please fans of Schweblin’s uniquely unsettling style. (January 8, Riverhead Books)
Tentacle by Rita Indiana, translated by Achy Obejas
Tentacle is the queer, punk, dystopian, climate change, science fiction novel from the Dominican Republic you didn’t know you needed in your life. An unforgettable and wild book, Tentacle follows Acilde Figueroa who finds herself “at the heart of a Santería prophecy: only she can travel back in time and save the ocean—and humanity—from disaster. But first she must become the man she always was—with the help of a sacred anemone.” Rita Indiana is a music composer, producer and key figure in contemporary Caribbean literature and the experimental Dominican popular music scene. (January 15, And Other Stories)
All My Goodbyes by Mariana Dimópulos, translated by Alice Whitmore
In striking fragments that shift between time and place, All My Goodbyes follows a young Argentinian woman and her “repeated acts of departure.” She leaves places. She leaves people. Ultimately, she thinks she’s found a home in the southernmost region of Patagonia, a place to stay, but it’s not to be. In the midst of archiving all of her goodbyes, her departures, we also have violent murders that haunt her story from the first page. A propulsive, restless force kept me glued to this novel and I read it in one sitting. (February 5, Transit Books)
Territory of Light follows a woman starting her life over again with her young daughter after being left by her husband. Her new Tokyo apartment is awash in light but she finds herself falling further into darkness and depression. As time passes, she confronts her new reality and makes plans for the future. It is a painful and honest journey, one that will ring true to many who have had to remake their life in a new image after loss. “At once tender and lacerating, luminous and unsettling, Yuko Tsushima’s Territory of Light is a novel of abandonment, desire, and transformation.” (February 12, Farrar, Straus & Giroux)
The White Book by Han Kang, translated by Deborah Smith
From the Booker-Prize winning author of The Vegetarian and Human Acts, comes the much-anticipated The White Book. While on a writer’s residency, a nameless narrator reckons with the death of her older sister, who died a few hours old and left an inedible mark on the narrator and her family. She writes about this tragedy in a series of unique and profound reflections “through the prism of the color white.” The White Book is a gorgeous and startling meditation on death and grief. (February 19, Hogarth)
The first installment in a new series from Helene Tursten, the author of the Irene Huss series and An Elderly Lady Is Up to No Good(which I loved). This new series follows Swedish Detective Inspector Embla Nyström as she’s swept into a murder investigation during her family’s annual moose hunt. Policewoman and prizewinning Nordic welterweight, Embla is a badass. Yes, she’s smart and strong—but also refreshingly complicated and flawed. The surprise in the ending comes not from the identity of the murderer but in Embla’s reaction to the events. And you couldn’t have a better setting for a chilling mystery than the nordic wilderness. (February 26, Soho Crime)
River of Fire by Qurratulain Hyder, translated by the author
Arguably the most important novel of 20th-century Urdu fiction, River of Fire follows the intertwining lives of four characters over two and a half millennia. Qurratulain Hyder weaves together “parables, legends, dreams, diaries, and letters, forming a rich tapestry of history and human emotions and redefining Indian identity.” The Times Literary Supplement describes it as “to Urdu fiction what One Hundred Years of Solitude is to Hispanic literature.” (March 26, New Directions)
Optic Nerve by María Gainza, translated by Thomas Bunstead
María Gainza’s English-language debut, translated by Thomas Bunstead, has been receiving rave reviews—its been called gorgeous, brilliant, and profound—and I can’t wait to get my hands on it. The narrator of Optic Nerve is an Argentinian woman obsessed with art and episodes in art history are woven into descriptions of her life in Buenos Aires. “The effect is of a character refracted by environment, composed by the canvases she studies…It is a book that captures, like no other, the mysterious connections between a work of art and the person who perceives it.” (April 9, Catapult)
I’d like to dedicate the month of April to Duanwad Pimwana, an important literary figure in contemporary Thai literature, hitting the U.S. literary scene by storm with two new books in April, both translated by Mui Poopoksakul. The first is Bright, published by Two Lines Press, the first-ever novel by a Thai woman to appear in English translation. In the second, Arid Dreams, Pimwana turns her keen eye and sharp wit on modern Thailand, “exploring class, gender, and disenchantment in a changing country.” (April 16, Feminist Press)
Flowers of Mold & Other Stories by Ha Seong-Nan, translated by Janet Hong
“If you’re looking for a book that will make you gasp out loud, you’ve found it.” So says Kirkus Reviews and dozens of other publications and reviewers who can’t stop talking about Flowers of Mold. Unnerving, haunting, captivating—these 10 stories follow ordinary characters going about their lives, yet there’s something disturbing just below the surface. One small crack and everything’s unleashed. “The latest in the trend of brilliant female Korean authors to appear in English, Ha cuts like a surgeon, and even the most mundane objects become menacing and unfamiliar under her scalpel.” (April 23, Open Letter)
Looking for even more? The New York Times Globetrotting feature gathers together a sneak preview of books coming out in 2019 from around the world.
The post was originally published on Book Riot.
Netflix has announced that it has acquired the rights to develop Gabriel García Márquez’s One Hundred Years of Solitude. Originally published in 1967, One Hundred Years of Solitude is widely regarded as the Nobel Prize winning author’s greatest work and as one of the most significant works in the modern literary canon. This is the first time the novel will be adapted for screen.
García Márquez was often approached for film rights during his lifetime but refused all offers, citing his concerns that the large, multi-generational novel would not adapt well into a single film. García Márquez was also committed to his story being told in Spanish.
Francisco Ramos, the vice president for Spanish language originals at Netflix, “noted the success of series like Narcos and movies like Roma, which recently won the Oscar for best foreign language film, that have shown ‘we can make Spanish-language content for the world.’”
No details, as of yet, about who will be writing or starring in the series.
This post was originally published on Book Riot.