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Best Translated Book Award > 2020 BTBA Speculation

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message 1: by Trevor (new)

Trevor (mookse) | 1843 comments Mod
I know that we are still in the middle of BTBA 2019, but since we've already had nearly four months of publications eligible for next year's award, it's time to start this thread.

As a reminder, books eligible for the 2020 Best Translated Book Award are those published in the United States during the calendar year 2019. These must be first-time translations, so no new translation of, say, War and Peace, is eligible even if it's amazing.

Please speculate away and let us know your thoughts on the eligible books.

As a resource, please look at the Translation Database here. It's very helpful, even if the captcha is incredibly obnoxious.


message 2: by Trevor (new)

Trevor (mookse) | 1843 comments Mod
Some BTBA favorites have books coming out in 2019:

-Laszlo Krasznahorkai: Baron Wenckheim's Homecoming
-Javier Marias: Berta Isla
-Cesar Aira: Birthday
-Enrique Vila Matas: Mac's Problem

Who else?


message 3: by Trevor (new)

Trevor (mookse) | 1843 comments Mod
And some titles I think are in contention, even if the authors are new to BTBA.

Agustin Fernandez Mallo: The Nocilla Trilogy: Nocilla Dream, Nocilla Experience, Nocilla Lab
Yuko Tsushima: Territory of Light
Dasa Drndic: EEG
Dag Solstad: Professor Andersen's Night


message 4: by Antonomasia (new)

Antonomasia | 2632 comments There are several on here which are also published in the US in 2019, sometimes in different editions, some the same ones:
https://www.goodreads.com/list/show/1...


message 5: by David (last edited Apr 19, 2019 01:15PM) (new)

David I just saw that next month a collection of 10 novels* by Cesar Aira will be published together in one book. They are, I am told, mostly early stories and ones that have been out of print for some time. But it's a Spanish-language publication only (for now). I now know how Pete Buttigieg felt when he decided to learn Norwegian.

* [NB: The publisher calls them "novels", but Aira doesn't write novels. They are actually 10 novellas, which is why 10 of them run between 500 and 600 pages when collected.]


message 6: by Lascosas (new)

Lascosas | 443 comments I'm not certain why the earlier Fitzcarraldo published books that comprise this trilogy, available from Amazon Prime, don't count as US publication, but hey, I'm most looking forward to The Nocilla Trilogy...and all the Dalkey.


message 7: by Paul (last edited Apr 19, 2019 01:39PM) (new)

Paul Fulcher (fulcherkim) | 8218 comments My two favourite books from the 2018 and 2019 MBI will be eligible:

The White Book - surely Han Kang can't be snubbed again (although the BTBA really does seem to have a blind spot for Korean literature)
and
Valerie


message 8: by Rebecca (new)

Rebecca H. | 1 comments Some favorites I've read so far: Flowers of Mold & Other Stories and Optic Nerve.


message 10: by Trevor (new)

Trevor (mookse) | 1843 comments Mod
On the four “BTBA Favorite” authors I listed in the second post:

- I love Aira’s Birthday, but I can definitely see it might be one of his that works better if you’re already invested in his work.

- I am reading Berta Isla at the moment and I love it too, but…I can see how it might strike a panel of judges as Marías being Marías and that not being enough. I may feel more strongly one way or the other when I finish it.

- I read the first chapter of Mac’s Problem yesterday, just to get a feel, and, yes, I loved it! It’s very fun and interesting and just a fantastic translation. It’s not an accident that two of these four books I’m talking about here were translated by the great Margaret Jull Costa. If this one somehow maintains the quality of the first few pages then I think it must be in contention. Then again, I thought they’d never leave his Because She Never Asked off the list a few years ago, and they did!

- I have a copy of Baron Wenckheim's Homecoming, but I’ve only opened it up to see the form of the pages. Krasznahorkai does not surprise: each page is crammed with never ending text, as if the words are being churned out by a mad man or a prophet having a vision. I can’t wait to jump on it!


message 11: by Paul (new)

Paul Fulcher (fulcherkim) | 8218 comments Looks like Charco Press will be eligible next year - they've just started US distribution

(will be interesting - rather like Fitzcarraldo this - to see which ones are deemed to be '2019' books)


message 12: by Tommi (new)

Tommi | 486 comments I was surprised to see the local bookshop stock new titles from New Directions, so I went and bought Mac's Problem (glad to see you like it so far, Trevor!) and Clarice Lispector’s The Besieged City. The Lispector novel hasn’t been translated before, so, technically it’s eligible, right...?


message 13: by Tara (new)

Tara (booksexyreview) | 10 comments It looks like NDiaye has a book coming out in October with Knopf that should be eligible. I'd love to see her win it... she's long overdue imho.


message 14: by Paul (new)

Paul Fulcher (fulcherkim) | 8218 comments The Cheffe: A Cook's Novel?

When I subscribed to Two Lines Press this year, they also had a NDiaye coming - a translation of Un temps de saison Suivi de La Trublionne de Pierre Lepape. But that seems to have disappeared from their latest list and been replaced by another book.


message 15: by June (new)

June | 121 comments Great article on an independent bookstore run by translators and focusing on books in translation. For your BTBA titles if you are in the Providence RI area!

https://lareviewofbooks.org/article/s...


message 16: by Val (new)

Val | 1016 comments I was excited until I realised there is more than one RI.


message 17: by Jen (new)

Jen | 110 comments June wrote: "Great article on an independent bookstore run by translators and focusing on books in translation. For your BTBA titles if you are in the Providence RI area!

https://lareviewofbooks.org/article/sh..."


Great profile, I'd love to visit this store


message 18: by WndyJW (new)

WndyJW | 4325 comments Providence looks about equidistance from Halifax and Cleveland, Jen, let’s meet there!


message 19: by June (new)

June | 121 comments A searing article about the ethics of translation in general and Clarice Lispector’s work in particular. Holy moly.

I am on my phone so cannot link properly...

https://lareviewofbooks.org/article/b...


message 20: by Tommi (new)

Tommi | 486 comments Thanks June, very interesting. Wow. Certainly puts Moser in a new light for me. Had not heard of his takedown review of This Little Art either, nor its backlash. Back to reading the rest of the article...


message 21: by Paul (last edited Aug 17, 2019 01:03AM) (new)

Paul Fulcher (fulcherkim) | 8218 comments Yes, thanks and wow.

We did discuss The Little Art backlash over on the Fitzcarraldo thread (and oddly Milkman as well - in the context of backlashes vs harsh reviews)

I did wonder if something more was going on, particularly the strength of the backlash against his review. I suspect he had a reputation but largely my word of mouth, whereas now someone is prepared to say it in public.


message 22: by Paul (new)

Paul Fulcher (fulcherkim) | 8218 comments This was the backlash: https://www.nytimes.com/2018/07/20/bo...

Not particularly inclined to dignify Moser's review with a link


message 23: by June (new)

June | 121 comments Thank you for the link, Paul. I wasn’t aware of The Little Art review and backlash when I read the LARB article. Now I will hop over to the Fitzcarraldo thread...


message 24: by Paul (new)

Paul Fulcher (fulcherkim) | 8218 comments I am going to post this here rather than another thread, as a lot of overlap with BTBA, but the The American Literary Translators Association (ALTA) longlists for the 2019 National Translation Awards (NTA) in Poetry and Prose have been announced today.

Focus here - rather more than say in BTBA/Booker International - is on judging the quality of the translation by reference to the source text.

Longlist for prose:

Anniversaries: From a Year in the Life of Gesine Cresspahl
by Uwe Johnson
translated from the German by Damion Searls
(New York Review Books)

Berlin Alexanderplatz
by Alfred Döblin
translated from the German by Michael Hofmann
(New York Review Books)

Brother in Ice
by Alicia Kopf
translated from the Catalan by Mara Faye Lethem
(And Other Stories)

Collected Stories
by Bruno Schulz
translated from the Polish by Madeline G. Levine
(Northwestern University Press)

Comemadre
by Roque Larraquy
translated from the Spanish by Heather Cleary
(Coffee House Press)

The Houseguest
by Amparo Davila
translated from the Spanish by Audrey Harris and Matthew Gleeson
(New Directions)

In Black and White
by Jun’ichiro Tanizaki
translated from the Japanese by Phyllis I. Lyons
(Columbia University Press)

Lost Time
by Józef Czapski
translated from the French by Eric Karpeles
(New York Review Books)

The Naked Woman
by Armonía Somers
translated from the Spanish by Kit Maude
(The Feminist Press)

Öraefi: The Wasteland
by Ófeigur Sigurdsson
translated from the Icelandic by Lytton Smith
(Deep Vellum Publishing)

The Taiga Syndrome
by Cristina Rivera Garza
translated from the Spanish by Suzanne Jill Levine and Aviva Kana
(Dorothy, a publishing project)

What’s Left of the Night
by Ersi Sotiropoulos
translated from the Greek by Karen Emmerich
(New Vessel Press)

I've read 5. I loved Oraefi - but surely Damion Searls has to take this.


message 25: by Antonomasia (last edited Sep 03, 2019 07:17AM) (new)

Antonomasia | 2632 comments Lovely list. Though Bruno Schultz's stories read so gorgeously in the original translation I feel that a new version is superfluous from an enjoyment perspective. (But people always want to strive for more accurate versions, which is understandable as its own thing.)


message 26: by Adam (new)

Adam (adamjknvijeklnbmtwfdngwj) | 5 comments gotta say, I'm pretty surprised to see the Tanizaki on there


message 27: by Paul (new)

Paul Fulcher (fulcherkim) | 8218 comments Antonomasia wrote: "Lovely list. Though Bruno Schultz's stories read so gorgeously in the original translation I feel that a new version is superfluous from an enjoyment perspective. (But people always want to strive ..."

Agreed and I had read the previous one. My review of this said:

I'm not, as a rule, a massive fan of retranslations of classic works. There is far too much great but untranslated literature that would better command an enthusiastic translator's attention, and much retranslation does seem to be nitpicking with the original - the occasional case where the original was badly flawed tends to be the exception rather than the rule.

Here I was pleased to see that Levine praises the 'undeniable magic of Wieniewska's English version.' She justifies retranslation generally on the grounds that "the richer the original, the more interpretations it can sustain. Translation is both a scholarly art and a performance,' which is fair enough but still leaves my concern with efficient use of translation resources.

Specifically, she argues that while her predecessor 'intended to convey the visual images and bizarre events that distinguish Schulz's stories,' she did this by 'taming his prose.' Levine's aim is to 'get closer to the texture of Schulz's prose by stretching English syntax to make it accommodate the sinousity of Schulz's longer sentences rather than reigning them in,' and also to closer mirror Schulz's repetition and alliteration and the use, as much as possible, of the prefix dis- (mirroring an equivalent Polish term).

I must admit I struggled, comparing the translations side by side, to detect such a significant difference, other perhaps than Levine drawing on a richer English vocabulary. Compare for example

Levine:
"Having entered the wrong vestibule and the wrong stairwell, one usually wound up in a veritable labyrinth of unfamiliar apartments and passageways, unexpected exits into unfamiliar courtyards, and one forgot the original goal of the expedition, until, many days later, while returning on some grey dawn from the uncharted territories of strange, matted adventures, one remembered amid pangs of conscience one's family home."

Wieniewska's version.
"For, once you had entered the wrong doorway and set foot on the wrong staircase, you were liable to find oneself in a real labyrinth of unfamiliar apartments and balconies, and unexpected doors opening onto strange empty courtyards, and you forgot the initial object of the expedition, only to recall it days later after numerous strange and complicated adventures, on regaining the family home in the grey light of dawn."



message 28: by Antonomasia (new)

Antonomasia | 2632 comments Ah, I can see some point to that. I like vestibule...veritable and "strange, matted adventures". Still more expensive and harder to get hold of for the moment. Would be nice to read both.


message 29: by Paul (last edited Sep 03, 2019 07:52AM) (new)

Paul Fulcher (fulcherkim) | 8218 comments Antonomasia wrote: "Ah, I can see some point to that. I like vestibule...veritable and "strange, matted adventures". Still more expensive and harder to get hold of for the moment. Would be nice to read both."

It was free on netgalley last year, which is why I got hold of it!

And what I liked was she didn't do the 'the previous translation was awful' thing (which usually comes down to po-tay-to, po-tah-to style nitpicking)

Adam wrote: "gotta say, I'm pretty surprised to see the Tanizaki on there"

Haven't read that. Any particular reason? Seems one of the author's less works - from the blurb:

The year 1928 was a remarkable one for Tanizaki. He wrote three exquisite novels, but while two of them--Some Prefer Nettles and Quicksand--became famous, In Black and White disappeared from view.

there is usually a reason for that!


message 30: by Sam (last edited Sep 03, 2019 07:56AM) (new)

Sam | 1541 comments This is a little late from Three Per Cent but mentions some possibilites from women's translation that might make the list. Paul has read nearly every book mentioned so see Paul for recommendations.

http://www.rochester.edu/College/tran...


message 31: by Paul (new)

Paul Fulcher (fulcherkim) | 8218 comments I've only read 10 of them.

The White Book is quite stunning - although I may be influenced by having heard the author read it in person (with Max 'Lanny' Porter reading the English afterwards)


message 32: by Sam (new)

Sam | 1541 comments Paul wrote: "I've only read 10 of them.

The White Book is quite stunning - although I may be influenced by having heard the author read it in person (with Max 'Lanny' Porter reading the English afterwards)"


That is a sizable sampling. Girl Returned isn't even on the list and that is an Ann Goldstein translation. I have borrowed History a Mess, The Translator's Bride, Territory of Light and The Wind That Lays Waste, but am still trying to finish Zuleikha, Stalingrad and The Catholic School, so I won't get to them for a bit.


message 33: by June (last edited Sep 03, 2019 09:49AM) (new)

June | 121 comments Sam wrote: "This is a little late from Three Per Cent but mentions some possibilites from women's translation that might make the list. Paul has read nearly every book mentioned so see Paul for recommendations..."

That list looks so great. I've read The Wind That Lays Waste: A Novel, Territory of Light, The White Book, and Welcome to America. The first two were very good, and Welcome to America and The White Book were excellent. I dipped into History. A Mess., but couldn't get into it.

I have borrowed Flowers of Mold, and The Remainder is on order so those will be next... Wouldn't it be a miracle to have actually made a dent in the longlist before it is released?


message 34: by Tommi (new)

Tommi | 486 comments I’ve read 8 from the list of 31:

Mouthful of Birds
Thirteen Months of Sunrise
Beyond Babylon
The Remainder
The Girl at the Door
The Wind That Lays Waste
Celestial Bodies
Drive Your Plow

Honestly I think they’re all great with the exception of The Girl at the Door which I didn’t like at all (partly because of a pretty bad audiobook). I hope Beyond Babylon gets some more recognition. And there are so many I want to read: The White Book, Territory of Light, Tentacle, Flowers of Mold... Nearly all of them! Some great reading ahead.

June wrote: "Wouldn't it be a miracle to have actually made a dent in the longlist before it is released?"

Exactly.


Gumble's Yard - Golden Reviewer | 5076 comments As with almost everything in literature Ducks, Newburyport anticipates the translation debate.

the fact that what I call the vestibule, I think Leo just calls the inner door, or hall door, the fact that I can’t actually remember what he calls it, the fact that there are some things on which couples just can never agree, the fact that it depends on the way you were brought up, the fact that does that mean incestuous brother-and-sister or sister-and-sister or brother-and-brother couples agree on more stuff, since they were brought up the same way, the fact that if you have a son by your dad, your son is also your brother, the fact that he’d be both your dad’s son and his grandson, weird, the fact that nobody ever talks about these things, but this stuff probably goes on all the time and there’s nothing anybody can do about it, exude, extrude, exeunt, exit, pursued by a bear, lychgate, the fact that Leo doesn’t think our vestibule is big enough to deserve the word “vestibule,” the fact that he thinks a vestibule is like the porch of a church, but not the lychgate, where they rest the coffin, just the covered doorway at the entrance, the fact that in a house, he thinks a vestibule’s somewhere you leave your coat and shoes and baseball bat and the dog’s leash, and all your rain gear, rainwear, Revere Ware, the fact that maybe you even sit down in there for a while, on a bench or something, if you’re tired when you reach home and wanna take a load off, hang, or get your muddy boots off, the fact that he means something like an enclosed porch maybe, and I think having a place like that’s a great idea, but who’s got one, the fact that in my family we just always called the area between our outer door and an inner door a vestibule, and that was that, the fact that I thought it was just there to keep out the drafts, when people come and go, not to house any equipment or anything, skis and umbrellas and canes and snow shovels and sweaters and marshmallows and picnic baskets and such, a-tisket a-tasket, a green and yellow basket, the fact that that rhyme always depressed me, I’m not sure why


message 36: by Sam (new)

Sam | 1541 comments Good to see so much interest. I believe September 17 will have the NBA longlist for translated literature, so we can look forward to that.


Gumble's Yard - Golden Reviewer | 5076 comments In terms of making dents in longlists this can backfire. Two of the last three years I turn out to have read all but one of the published Booker Prize longlists when they were published which sounds good but less so when you have a two week holiday which you had earmarked to relax and read the longlist. Still it’s meant I have been forced to do something I normally avoid and re-read books.


message 38: by Ella (new)

Ella (ellamc) | 1019 comments Mod
I've been really taken by the Anniversaries translation by Damion Searls. I've been checking in on the German from time to time, and it's just a gorgeous translation - lighthanded and well-written, a real joy to read every day. I look forward to the daily pages as much as I look forward to the cup of coffee I read them with now.


message 39: by Sam (new)

Sam | 1541 comments Kirkus Reviews has released their best fiction in translation list.

https://www.kirkusreviews.com/lists/b...


message 40: by June (new)

June | 121 comments Sam wrote: "Kirkus Reviews has released their best fiction in translation list.

https://www.kirkusreviews.com/lists/b..."


Thanks for posting this, Sam. There were few on the list that were not on my radar.


message 41: by Sam (new)

Sam | 1541 comments Last year only two of the best reviwed of 2018 made the longlist. I will be interested to see how these do, though some do not qualify.

https://bookmarks.reviews/the-best-re...


message 42: by Sara G (new)

Sara G | 166 comments I haven't even read it but I'll make a wild guess and say that Baron Wenckheim's Homecoming wins--and it's not on this list.


message 43: by Antonomasia (new)

Antonomasia | 2632 comments Hmm, Krasznahorkai has won the BTBA *twice* already. I reckon he'll be shortlisted, but won't win.


message 44: by Antonomasia (new)

Antonomasia | 2632 comments A likely 2021 candidate, and a book that will interest some of you guys, via a GR friend: Impostures by Al-Hariri, tr. Michael Cooperson


message 45: by Ella (last edited Jan 01, 2020 01:20PM) (new)

Ella (ellamc) | 1019 comments Mod
Antonomasia wrote: "A likely 2021 candidate, and a book that will interest some of you guys, via a GR friend: Impostures by Al-Hariri, tr. Michael Cooperson"

Now that sounds right up my street (as opposed to the last thread I just left.) Thanks, Anto!

Edit to add: I need to make a macro that says "thanks, Anto" and maybe then I could "take the time" to spell your full GR handle.


message 46: by Antonomasia (new)

Antonomasia | 2632 comments Nah, I like the abbreviation anyway.


message 47: by Janet (new)

Janet (janetevans) | 23 comments Impostures looks really interesting. I've added it to my to reads, thanks.

J


message 48: by Antonomasia (new)

Antonomasia | 2632 comments Again not eligible for 2020 BTBA but also of interest: National Autonomous University of Mexico has a project to reissue works by Latin American literary women authors which had fallen out of print: https://www.theguardian.com/world/202...

I am guessing these are just in Spanish at this stage, but maybe some will be translated (if they weren't already).


message 49: by Ella (new)

Ella (ellamc) | 1019 comments Mod
Antonomasia wrote: "Again not eligible for 2020 BTBA but also of interest: National Autonomous University of Mexico has a project to reissue works by Latin American literary women authors which had fallen out of print..."

They are only in Spanish at the moment, and at least in the US, they're impossible to get except on Amazon's kindle. I have the whole collection, and I have read the first in the series. It infuriates me that this book hasn't been available for so long. (Also, the covers are gorgeous - so I do wish they were in paperback, but OK.) I did read that they seem to be (or have been) available on Scribd - but it didn't say in which countries... If anyone sees them in physical format, it would be nice to hear about.


message 50: by Eric (new)

Eric | 257 comments Hi all. Anyone know if the BTBA is going on as planned with an April 1st longlist?


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