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Best Translated Book Award > 2019 BTBA Speculation

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message 1: by Trevor (new)

Trevor (Mookse) | 1567 comments Mod
We are already well into the publishing year, so we can start speculating about and sharing out favorites for the next award!


message 2: by Gumble's Yard (new)

Gumble's Yard | 1280 comments Frankenstein in Baghdad?


message 3: by Paul (new)

Paul Fulcher (fulcherkim) | 3068 comments Mod
On twitter, Michael Orthofer of The Complete Review Guide to Contemporary World Fiction has linked to this thread and added some speculation of his own

Haven't considered the possibilities too closely yet; 2x Dag Solstad & Knausgaard-VI seem the most obvious longlist contenders; Uwe Johnson's "Anniversaries" alas not eligible (even if previous translation was only partial)

Referring to:
T. Singer
Armand V: 5
The End: My Struggle: Book 6


message 4: by Tara (last edited Jun 15, 2018 02:56PM) (new)

Tara (BookSexyReview) | 6 comments I just started reading the new Mathias Enard - and it's so beautiful. It reminds me a little bit of Aira's An Episode In the Life of a Landscape Painter, and a little bit of Calvino's Invisible Cities. It's also a much more manageable page count (versus Compass) as well - 144 pages. A restrained, concise Enard.


message 5: by Lascosas (last edited Jun 15, 2018 04:19PM) (new)

Lascosas | 288 comments Totally looking forward to My Struggle #6. I've read the 2 non-fiction books in English about the massacre that forms the/a center of volume 6, so am very much ready to go! I'm not a fan of his last couple of books, and the mid volumes of My Struggle weren't up to #1, but yes, very excited.

It isn't a great year for Dalkey translations, unfortunately.

Since it has largely been translated before, it isn't BTBA eligible, but the complete 2,000 page Uwe Johnson Anniversaries is due in October.

And yes, Gumble's Yard, Frankenstein in Baghdad.


message 6: by Paul (new)

Paul Fulcher (fulcherkim) | 3068 comments Mod
Hadn't realised there was a new Enard - that's exciting. I see Parle-leur de batailles, de rois et d'éléphants is out in November from New Directions. Wonder if Fitzcarraldo will be publishing in the UK.


message 7: by Tara (new)

Tara (BookSexyReview) | 6 comments That was the one I was talking about... it's eligible isn't it?


message 8: by Paul (last edited Jun 16, 2018 05:07AM) (new)

Paul Fulcher (fulcherkim) | 3068 comments Mod
Yes eligible - was just musing if it would come out this side of the Atlantic via my favourite publisher who also publish Enard generally: I've subscribed in advance to their next 2 years of books.
....
Just checked and it is published simultaneously in UK (Fitzcarraldo) and US (New Directions) on 1 November 2018.

Exciting!


message 9: by Paul (last edited Aug 28, 2018 02:22PM) (new)

Paul Fulcher (fulcherkim) | 3068 comments Mod
9 tips from website by the team that both host the award and as a publisher won it this year.

http://rochester.edu/College/translat...

NB worth reading the full article - not all are books he thinks should win as opposed to probably will win...

1) My Struggle: Book Six by Karl Øve Knausgaard (2-to-1 odds)

2) Pretty Things by Virginie Despentes (10-to-1 odds)

3) Flights by Olga Tokarczuk (12-to-1 odds)

4) Wait, Blink by Gunnhild Øyehaug (25-to-1 odds)

5) T. Singer by Dad Solstad (50-to-1 odds)

6) Brother in Ice by Alicia Kopf (100-to-1 odds)

and of Open Letters books....
7 & 8 & 9) The Endless Summer by Madame Nielsen, The Bottom of the Sky by Rodrigo Fresán, and Fox by Dubravka Ugresic


message 10: by Paul (new)

Paul Fulcher (fulcherkim) | 3068 comments Mod
Gumble's Yard wrote: "Frankenstein in Baghdad?"

Wonder if Frankenstein in Baghdad is BTBA as opposed to MBI material


message 11: by Gumble's Yard (new)

Gumble's Yard | 1280 comments Surely it's more relevant to and important for a U.S. Audience to read than a UK one. Or is there another BTBA difference to the MBI.


message 12: by June (new)

June Scott | 38 comments That was a fun listicle, Paul. Thank you for the link. I hate to admit it, but I felt the same way he does about Flights, even though I think I gave it 4 stars. I also do not want My Struggle/ Book 6 to win. I think Knausgaard is wildly overrated, and this year especially, there’s just too darn much of him around. I’m looking forward to the Mme Nielsen which is next on my list.


message 13: by Paul (last edited Aug 28, 2018 02:22PM) (new)

Paul Fulcher (fulcherkim) | 3068 comments Mod
Gumble - there is quite a stylistic difference between BTBA and MBI books, BTBA tends to be at the slightly more literary end of the spectrum, as this year's 550 page post modern self avowed "this is not a novel" rather demonstrates. Also a geographically understandable bias to Latin America over Europe, albeit less of an issue for F I B.


message 14: by Paul (new)

Paul Fulcher (fulcherkim) | 3068 comments Mod
June. Must admit I disagree with him on Flights hence why our Shadow Jury awarded it our MBI the day before the official jury followed.


message 15: by Sara G (new)

Sara G | 140 comments Some guesses:

The Restless - Maybe
La Bastarda: A Novel - Probably Not
The Perfect Nanny - No
In Black and White - Maybe


message 16: by Eric (new)

Eric | 195 comments I've only read 3 eligible titles so far:
The Fox (Dubravka Ugresic/Ellen Elias-Bursać & David Williams), which I enjoyed, and expect to see shortlisted.

The Endless Summer (Madame Nielsen/Gaye Kynoch). I was lukewarm on this one, but a very fine book in many ways.

Empty Set (Verónica Gerber Bicecci/Christina MacSweeney). Not my bag. I couldn't help being reminded of 2018's August while reading. I think it would appeal to the same readers, though I enjoyed this one a bit more.


message 17: by Sara G (last edited Aug 08, 2018 12:22PM) (new)

Sara G | 140 comments I enjoyed August, so I'm going to have to check this one out! Thank Eric.

Some more that I've read from 2018:
Tomb Song - maybe. I did not enjoy it, but I see the value in it.

The Tidings of the Trees - I would definitely expect this one on the shortlist.

I Didn't Talk - Maybe? I would probably shortlist it, but there are long discussions of education that other readers might see as tangents when I see them as integral.


message 18: by Eric (new)

Eric | 195 comments You're welcome, Sara. I hope I'm not way off base with my comparison.

I believe Hilbig has two books out this year. Either way, I'll be reading Tidings of the Trees before longlist announcement. Also, thanks for the recommendation of I Didn't Talk. I'm starting to realize I should just cut my losses and read everything New Directions puts out; I really enjoyed what I read of theirs last year.


message 19: by Sara G (new)

Sara G | 140 comments Eric wrote: "I'm starting to realize I should just cut my losses and read everything New Directions puts out."

This year I just went ahead and read all the new Feminist Press books, after seeing how often they appear on the shortlist.


message 20: by Eric (new)

Eric | 195 comments That was a little weird last year - 3 for 3, yes? How are this years'? I've never read Virginie Despentes, so I had plans to get to Pretty Things at some point.


message 21: by Antonomasia (last edited Aug 29, 2018 07:22PM) (new)

Antonomasia | 1259 comments Mod
Was browsing some stuff on Twitter and noticed that the 2019 BTBA juries have just been announced: http://www.rochester.edu/College/tran...


message 22: by Lascosas (new)

Lascosas | 288 comments Also the timeline. 46 days between 25 book longlist and 10 book shortlist. And then 15 days between shortlist and award.

Once again, absolutely no interest in readers. I'm the only person who year-in, year-out reads the 25. For everyone else, it is a matter of trying to read the shortlist. Fifteen days is barely enough time to receive the books (unless you order ebooks), let alone read them!

Why?


message 23: by Antonomasia (new)

Antonomasia | 1259 comments Mod
Have you ever emailed and asked them? (I assume you don't use Twitter)


message 24: by Lascosas (new)

Lascosas | 288 comments Yes on email, and I received no response. And you are right, I don't understand the point of social media.


message 25: by Sara G (new)

Sara G | 140 comments Oh wow, Sofia Samatar is a judge! She became less active in social media in the past few years but before that, I loved hearing her commentary on books. Even when I don't like a book she recommends, it's usually a book that challenges me in some way, and I appreciate that.

I'll ping the BTBA and Chad's twitter account to ask about the timing if no one else has.


message 27: by Lascosas (new)

Lascosas | 288 comments That works, thanks.


message 28: by Lascosas (new)

Lascosas | 288 comments Karl Ove Knausgaard - My Struggle, Book 6

Should this book be longlisted? Yes.

I finished reading this a couple of days ago, and with time the book divides into three separate, and not particularly well integrated parts in my mind.

Those of us who have been reading My Struggle for years think we know our Karl Ove. Ever striving to remember what happened and to properly, honestly, place himself in the middle of what he is describing. And a core feature of Karl Ove is his insecurity. Whether it is the relationship with his young students as an apprentice teacher, a student in the writing school and particularly in the relationship with his father, he is self conscious and has low self-estimate.

As Volume 6 starts he and his publisher have decided to publish My Struggle as six volumes, all with Norwegian government sponsorship. Before the first book goes to the publisher he sends it to those most directly mentioned in the book, including his paternal uncle. That uncle goes ballistic, threatening to sue everyone and to ensure that the libelous book is never published. In particular he bombards the publisher with a long list of the book's factual errors, particularly the physical description of his grandmother's house after his father died, and how long the father had been living there.

If you haven't read any of the previous five volumes, I would strongly suggest reading volume one before tackling this book. Volume one centers around Karl Ove trying to come to terms with his father, and the scene where he enters his grandmother's house after his father dies is one of the most searing scenes I've ever read. Absolute filth and an alcoholic's nightmare existence in a home that filled his childhood with order and middle class comfort. Well, the uncle says that entire scene was a lie. None of the filth and decay existed. This makes Karl Ove question many things core to the whole project that is My Struggle, and his insecurity and fear around the escalating anger and accusations of the uncle rings so true to the Karl Ove we've been living with for years. The uncle goes on to say Karl Ove has always been a worthless loser, a liar, thief, drug user...And then part one ends.

Part two is several hundred pages of essay. And for the first hundred pages I couldn't get over the feeling that this was Karl Ove showing his uncle how wrong he was. Look, I'm an intellectual who can throw around concepts and name-check with the best of 'em. The ideas were somewhat interesting and somewhat relevant to the first part of the book, where he transitions from thoughts on use of names to the I-we-it in various contexts, from a Paul Celan poem to Mein Kampf (the original My Struggle). And this is followed by a long dissection of Hitler's early years and how those years have been interpreted, and misinterpreted, by others. In general not my cup of tea. I prefer facts (history, biography) or fiction. Philosophy, criticism, not so much. So I'm not the best person to judge the essay portion of the book. But I did think it was so long that parts one and three, which are closely related, became much more separated by the inclusion of the essay in between.

The last two days have mostly been spent trying to let my anger over part three dissipate. But it hasn't. Karl Ove received a storm of criticism in Norway when these volumes appeared because of his intimate discussion of real people. Not famous people, just every day people who he came across during various periods in his life. I thought that was rather over-blown because in each instance the emphasis was Karl Ove and his description of his own life. He was the key, and because he exercised unrelenting honestly in his portrayal, details of others were quite minimal compared to Karl Ove, the ever present center of everything. This changed in part 3.

Karl Ove and his wife Linda have a difficult marriage, and in increasing detail we are told that Linda is the problem. She is completely selfish and controlling. Karl Ove is the only person earning any money, yet he does half of the child care for their three small children, plus 100% of the housekeeping, plus he isn't even allowed to leave the house for business, let alone for pleasure. This was very, very uncomfortable to read. This is Karl Ove whining to the reader, and getting us to side with him in this marital spat. And she gets more and more selfish until she simply refuses to do anything at all. Then all of a sudden it dawns on him that the situation isn't one of willful selfishness. It is severe mental illness. At that point he does a typical look-how-clueless-Karl-Ove-is, he misunderstood everything. But it is too little, and for this entire part 3 he is on the sidelines, it is really all about Linda's mental illness. She goes into a local psychiatric hospital, and Karl Ove is now doing 100% of everything. Then eventually Linda returns to the family (after a hospital nurse firmly tells her that it is time to return to her husband and children). And then the book ends. It felt like a massive overwhelming invasion of Linda's privacy. And the privacy of their now four children. The rawness of her mental state. It just seems very, very wrong, and an unsettling way to end a wonderful and important series of books.

I still think this book should be longlisted, but I do wish part 3 had been handled differently.


message 29: by David (new)

David | 209 comments Lascosas wrote: "Karl Ove Knausgaard - My Struggle, Book 6

Should this book be longlisted? Yes."


I'm confused. I thought these books were non-fiction (which would mean it isn't eligible for the BTBA. (I read about 100 pages of Vol 1 before abandoning it, and it sure seemed like non-fiction to me.)


message 30: by Antonomasia (new)

Antonomasia | 1259 comments Mod
Lascosas, you should post these as GR reviews. Several of us would like them.


message 31: by Lascosas (new)

Lascosas | 288 comments David-
Fiction is in the eye of the author. They get to define it, and these days I read a number of books that in a prior epoch would be called autobiography.

Antonomasia-
Thanks, but I'm more comfortable in my own sandbox.


message 32: by Paul (new)

Paul Fulcher (fulcherkim) | 3068 comments Mod
Lascosas - very much agree with all of that. As I was reading I assumed Linda must have been asked to sign off on part 3, particularly given the legal issues with Book 1. But given they were subsequently divorced, I wonder.


message 33: by David (new)

David | 209 comments Lascosas wrote: "David-
Fiction is in the eye of the author. They get to define it, and these days I read a number of books that in a prior epoch would be called autobiography."


Good grief! One more reason I'm glad I stopped reading it. I don't mind if an author writes a book that is actually true and calls it fiction, but if he does that he doesn't then get to go around talking about the book as non-fiction. Besides, if readers all take it as non-fiction and you are getting sued by the people named and described in the book, it's only pretentiousness to call it fiction.


message 34: by Lascosas (new)

Lascosas | 288 comments Paul-
I didn't want to include this as part of my 'review' but I was also disturbed by the confluence of Part 3 with what happened after the book ends. At one point in the book Linda says that Karl Ove will leave her and live with someone functional, who has her own career, her own identity outside of Karl Ove and that this new person will be able to let him come and go. Well, that is exactly what has transpired.

The claustrophobic world of small children and a wife who is mentally fragile. He bailed. I know he spends every other week with the children, I realize he isn't a complete flake, but the invasion of privacy that is part 3 is particularly hard when you know he simply absented himself from the whole thing later.


message 35: by June (last edited Sep 14, 2018 03:12PM) (new)

June Scott | 38 comments Lascosas wrote: "Paul-
I didn't want to include this as part of my 'review' but I was also disturbed by the confluence of Part 3 with what happened after the book ends. At one point in the book Linda says that Karl..."


I'm sorry to break in when your comment was addressed to Paul, but I wanted to let you know that I appreciated your comments. I've read Books 1-5 and Spring (the unofficial 7). Part 3 sounds very much like Spring. I found his callousness and neglect to be stunning in that book, which was weirdly marketed as "life affirming." That he has repeatedly exploited his ex-wife's breakdowns for his books is so galling to me, but I agree with you that he's not a complete fake. And on a positive note, I've read Linda's novel, The Helios Disaster, which depicts mental illness (though it is not autobiographical per se), and I admired it. It's quite surreal and poetic, with a wonderful cadence.


message 36: by Lascosas (new)

Lascosas | 288 comments June-

Thanks for your comments, and you certainly aren't breaking in! I've not read, or even heard of, Linda's novel. I'll give that a look. I started to fall off my Karl Ove obsession with the football book. When a publisher puts out something like that you know the author has reached rock star status.

I've dipped into the 4 season books but, again, think they were only published because he was Karl Ove. He made a big deal of saying that when he finished My Struggle he would give up being a writer, and part of me thinks that he has.


message 37: by June (new)

June Scott | 38 comments I haven't read the football book, because, well, football. :-) Besides Spring (the only one that is novel), of the other season books, I've read essays or parts of essays published elsewhere, and those were truly bad. They're almost self-parodying and certainly lend weight to your thought that he's given up.


message 38: by Eric (new)

Eric | 195 comments Three more:

The Bottom of the Sky (Rodrigo Fresan/Will Vanderhyden) was not for me. I'm curious to know what other admirers of The Invested Part made of this one.

Sorry RoC judges, I didn't find much to enjoy about Blue Self-Portrait (Noémi Lefebvre/Sophie Lewis). My least favorite 2019 BTBA eligible book I've read this year.

T Singer (Dag Solstad/Tiina Nunnally) saved this last batch. I'd like to see it shortlisted.


message 39: by Paul (new)

Paul Fulcher (fulcherkim) | 3068 comments Mod
Fair to say Blue Self Portrait divided opinion even among the RoC judges but I was a massive fan.

And I think I will be skipping the new Fresan. Still recovering from the last one!


message 40: by Eric (new)

Eric | 195 comments I should mention that all of the above were read during a reading - and really an overall mood - slump. Blue Self-Portrait and The Bottom of the Sky may have been tainted by that.

Still, smart decision to skip Fresan's book if you weren't a fan of the last one.


message 41: by Antonomasia (new)

Antonomasia | 1259 comments Mod
Has anyone read Fox by Dubravka Ugresic?

The Three Percent post about the NBA translation longlist says "leaving off Fox by Dubravka Ugresic is a straight up crime, and I will not back down from that" which would seem to reflect that Open Letter think (or at least Chad Post thinks) it's the best of their books this year.

I've read a couple of books of her essays, which I didn't feel were anything special (I remain baffled as to what people see in them over and above the work of dozens of other columnists and bloggers) but I haven't read any of her fiction. This seems to be an experimental fiction that is somewhere in between standard fiction & non.


message 42: by Lascosas (new)

Lascosas | 288 comments I recently completed it. I am a huge fan of hers. I have read every book of hers translated into English, and there are almost a dozen. Fox is my favorite. I'll try to put up a review in the next few days.

I would say all of her books are basically the same, whether short stories, essays or novels. Ugresic trying to find her place in a world where she doesn't belong.


message 43: by Eric (last edited Sep 30, 2018 04:20AM) (new)

Eric | 195 comments Antonomasia-
I've read four Open Letter titles this year and Fox is far and away the best of these. It was my first Ugresic. I'd be very surprised to not see it on this year's BTBA shortlist.


message 44: by Antonomasia (new)

Antonomasia | 1259 comments Mod
Eric, I didn't see your mention of it upthread earlier, sorry about that.

Lascosas, will be interested to read your review.


message 45: by Lascosas (new)

Lascosas | 288 comments Eric-
I'm very glad to hear you thought so highly of Fox. I have always found it slightly odd that Open Letter publishes more Dubravka Ugresic than any other author. I appreciate it, but I find it an unusual business decision.


message 46: by Lascosas (new)

Lascosas | 288 comments Eric-
Which other 2018 Open Letter have you read? I intend to read all of their 2018 books (incl the Ugresic essay collection), but so far I've only read Fox and Olafsson's Narrator. I'm not an Olafsson fan, and Narrator didn't change my opinion.


message 47: by Antonomasia (new)

Antonomasia | 1259 comments Mod
Lascosas wrote: "I have always found it slightly odd that Open Letter publishes more Dubravka Ugresic than any other author. I appreciate it, but I find it an unusual business decision."

I wonder if, as well as their obviously being fans, it's a kind of (somewhat risky) investment because they believe she may one day win something big, like the Nobel. If she does they will already have her back catalogue in English and get plenty of sales from it. Goodness knows what will happen with the literature Nobel now, but she did win the Neustadt a couple of years ago.


message 48: by Lascosas (new)

Lascosas | 288 comments Well, one can hope!


message 49: by Eric (new)

Eric | 195 comments I've also read Narrator, and feel the same about it as you did. The other two were Rodrigo Fresan's The Bottom of the Sky, which I didn't take to at all (I was a fan of The Invented Part), and Madame Nielsen's The Endless Summer, which I enjoyed.


message 50: by Lascosas (new)

Lascosas | 288 comments Oh, I forgot Madame Nielsen! I really hated that book. I thought it was so artificial, so shallow. Interesting that you were able to see through the surface, where I was miserably stuck. I'm the next up for the Fresan ebook at my library.


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