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National Book Awards (USA) > 2019 National Book Award for Translated Literature

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message 1: by Antonomasia (last edited Sep 17, 2019 12:53PM) (new)

Antonomasia | 2632 comments This is the longlist, which was announced on 17th September:

Naja Marie Aidt, “When Death Takes Something from You Give It Back: Carl's Book
Translated by Denise Newman
Coffee House Press

Eliane Brum, “The Collector of Leftover Souls: Field Notes on Brazil's Everyday Insurrections
Translated by Diane Grosklaus Whitty
Graywolf Press

Nona Fernández, “Space Invaders
Translated by Natasha Wimmer
Graywolf Press

Vigdis Hjorth, “Will and Testament
Translated by Charlotte Barslund
Verso Fiction / Verso Books

Khaled Khalifa, “Death Is Hard Work
Translated by Leri Price
Farrar, Straus & Giroux / Macmillan Publishers

László Krasznahorkai, “Baron Wenckheim's Homecoming
Translated by Ottilie Mulzet
New Directions

Scholastique Mukasonga, “The Barefoot Woman
Translated by Jordan Stump
Archipelago Books

Yoko Ogawa, “The Memory Police
Translated by Stephen Snyder
Pantheon Books / Penguin Random House

Pajtim Statovci, “Crossing
Translated by David Hackston
Pantheon Books / Penguin Random House

Olga Tokarczuk, “Drive Your Plow Over the Bones of the Dead
Translated by Antonia Lloyd-Jones
Riverhead Books / Penguin Random House


message 2: by Kristian (new)

Kristian (krsvane) | 64 comments Will and Testament is a very gripping read. I definitely recommend it.


message 3: by Tommi (last edited Sep 17, 2019 10:11PM) (new)

Tommi | 486 comments Picking up from the general NBA thread:

June wrote: "Here's a review of the Aidt that calls it a memoir, but obviously whatever the author calls it is what it is"

Indeed it seems it’s called a memoir almost everywhere besides the publisher over here where I live, so apologies for my misleading comment. The author herself, as far as I recall from the interview, talked about it as a rather creative response to a tragic event, and she tests all kinds of literary forms to deal with her grief – there’s poetry, diary entries – so it’s not in a sort of standard memoir format either.

There could be a slight difference between US and Nordic publishing too: I would say that “the novel” encapsulates so many autobiographical works in the Nordic countries at the moment, perhaps thanks to the likes of Mr and Mrs Knausgård, and now Vigdis Hjorth etc., that it is getting increasingly blurry what is what. And this topic roused plenty of comments when we discussed Annie Ernaux earlier this year!


message 4: by Kristian (new)

Kristian (krsvane) | 64 comments I seem to recall Valeria Luiselli mentioned Aidt in her acknowledgments in Lost Children Archive.


message 5: by Tommi (new)

Tommi | 486 comments Kristian wrote: "I seem to recall Valeria Luiselli mentioned Aidt in her acknowledgments in Lost Children Archive."

True, just checked from the hardback: “N. M. Aidt”.


message 6: by Cristiano (new)

Cristiano | 49 comments I think this is a very exciting list.

I should start 'Drive your plough...', but hesitant as I am still reading Flights, which is by my bed. I only read a section once at the time whenever I feel like doing so.

Excited to read Crossing, Memory Police & Will and Testament.


message 7: by Paul (new)

Paul Fulcher (fulcherkim) | 8246 comments Drive your Plow is rather different to Flights - even something of a page turner, whereas dipping in to Flights is a good way to approach it.


message 8: by Karen Michele (new)

Karen Michele Burns (klibrary) | 179 comments I'm reading Drive Your Plow right now and agree that the pages are turning quite quickly. I'm really enjoying the writing and the story. I liked Flights, but lost track of some of it, especially as I was listening and drifted at times. I think I may try Flights again in print someday. I haven't read any of the others on the list, but I'm looking forward to dipping in to it and reading as many as I can.


message 9: by Paul (new)

Paul Fulcher (fulcherkim) | 8246 comments Very impressed with Crossing

Hlafway through Memory Police it is enjoyable but seems a little lightweight by comparison

So far:

1 Baron Wenckheim's Homecoming (haven't read it but it's Krasznahorkai)
2 Crossing
3 The Barefoot Woman
4 Memory Police
5 Drive Your Plow

I've also ordered Will & Testament


message 10: by Ella (last edited Sep 27, 2019 10:58AM) (new)

Ella (ellamc) | 1019 comments Mod
I noticed sometime last week that I actually have two copies of “The Barefoot Woman” (this happens less often now that I scan all of my books, but somehow this one escaped me!) If anyone would like a copy, message me & I'll mail it to you.

Copy now gone to its new owner!


message 11: by WndyJW (new)

WndyJW | 4351 comments I haven’t paid attention to the prize before, I was excited about the number of indie press books before I realized that’s it because they are translated books. The same is not true for the NBA for Fiction.


message 12: by June (new)

June | 121 comments I just finished the Naja Marie Aidt, and it is achingly beautiful.


message 13: by WndyJW (new)

WndyJW | 4351 comments Sounds like a prize I need to follow, especially because these translated works are mostly from small presses in the US.


message 14: by Ella (new)

Ella (ellamc) | 1019 comments Mod
Yeah - I tend to prefer the translatated portion & the nonfiction portion more, probably b/c by the time the lists are announced I've usually evaluated the fiction list pretty well for myself and these other two always have at least a couple new titles to me.


message 15: by WndyJW (new)

WndyJW | 4351 comments How long has the NBA had a category for translated fiction? Is it fairly new?


message 16: by Scott (new)

Scott Boyd | 111 comments WndyJW wrote: "How long has the NBA had a category for translated fiction? Is it fairly new?"

Very new. The NBA introduced this category just last year. The main difference is that their award includes both fiction and nonfiction - unless, of course, you want to debate the inclusion of "The Years" on this year's MBIP list. But I digress.

Quite simply, it just makes it harder to predict.


message 17: by Sam (new)

Sam | 1547 comments There is an interesting article on Hjorth in the latest issue of the New Yorker. I am not linking the article because it may be paywalled, but you can seek for yourselves. They usually allow a few free reads each month.


message 18: by Paul (new)

Paul Fulcher (fulcherkim) | 8246 comments Yes that Hjorth article is very good.

Although does lead to an interesting debate (not in the New Yorker but have seen it in comments on people ‘s reviews) as to whether the story behind the book should impact one’s assessment of the book.

Reading the Hjorth now and I am impressed but I think my reading experience is different to had I picked it up cold.


message 19: by June (last edited Oct 02, 2019 11:33AM) (new)

June | 121 comments Paul wrote: "Yes that Hjorth article is very good.

Although does lead to an interesting debate (not in the New Yorker but have seen it in comments on people ‘s reviews) as to whether the story behind the book..."


I am reading the Hjorth right now as well. Honestly, I was tempted to abandon it about 50 pages in, as the manic repetition and gossipiness was grating on me. Had I not known the story or read positive reviews I would have probably put it aside. However, now with about 100 pages to go, I am appreciating it much, much more.


message 20: by Paul (new)

Paul Fulcher (fulcherkim) | 8246 comments Yes had a similar thing 50 pages in vs 100 or so.

And in a way the pettiness of the whole thing about the cabins is part of the interest as it is very true to life. Although obviously - and again hard to read the book without knowing how due to all the publicity - the family dispute gets a lot darker.


message 21: by WndyJW (new)

WndyJW | 4351 comments I just realized I have an uncorrected proof of Death is Hard Work that a friend gave earlier this year. I don’t know how she got it. I also have Drive Your Plow. I will read those two for sure. I will not read the Aidt and probably not the Hjorth.
I don’t judge a book by what it’s summary, but I can’t say any of these are calling to me except the Tokarczuk. I think I’ll focus on the Goldsmith instead.


message 22: by Scott (new)

Scott Boyd | 111 comments I'm reading my 8th (Brum and Fernandez aren't published yet), and I think all are worthwhile. I've enjoyed this longlist more than the BTBA or MBIP this year.


message 23: by Paul (new)

Paul Fulcher (fulcherkim) | 8246 comments Yes agreed it is a good list from 4.5 I've read. Shortlist is out in 5 days - I will try to read any on shortlist that aren't in 6 I've read.

How would you rank them Scott?

For me:
[1 Baron Wenckheim's Homecoming (haven't read it but it's Krasznahorkai)]
2 Crossing
3 Will & Testament (based on 50% read)
4 Memory Police (gone up on reflection as has lingered with me)
5 The Barefoot Woman
6 Drive Your Plow


message 24: by Paul (new)

Paul Dixon (pvdixon) | 38 comments I really enjoyed Death is Hard Work. There are some elements that didn’t really work for me that are keeping it from being a 5 star book, but the core of the book is strong and not at all what I was expecting.


message 25: by Sam (new)

Sam | 1547 comments I am nibbling away at the list. I read Aidt, Mukasonga and Statovci, with Hjorth and Khalifa upcoming. I started Krasz and am saving it for last since it will be a slower read and I want to enjoy it. I am having multiple books become available this month from library holds etc. so I doubt I will finish more than 2 more before the shortlist.


message 26: by June (new)

June | 121 comments Sam wrote: "I am nibbling away at the list..."

I too am nibbling and am enjoying the selections. Here are my rankings so far:

1. Crossing
2. If Death Takes Something From You Give It Back
3.
4. Will and Testament
5. The Memory Police

I will get to The Barefoot Woman before the shortlist comes out thanks to Ella...


message 27: by Scott (new)

Scott Boyd | 111 comments Paul wrote: "Yes agreed it is a good list from 4.5 I've read. Shortlist is out in 5 days - I will try to read any on shortlist that aren't in 6 I've read.

How would you rank them Scott?

My top 5 (alphabetically):

Baron Wenckheim's Homecoming
Death Is Hard Work
Drive Your Plow
The Memory Police
When Death Takes Something From You

My lower 3:
The Barefoot Woman
Crossing
Will and Testament



message 28: by Scott (new)

Scott Boyd | 111 comments I have a busy week starting tomorrow, so I wanted to post my final predictions now:

Crossing
Death Is Hard Work
Drive Your Plow Over the Bones of the Dead
The Memory Police
When Death Takes Something from You Give It Back


message 29: by Tracy (new)

Tracy (tstan) | 303 comments I agree with you on 4 of the 5, Scott. I think The Barefoot Woman, instead of Death is Hard Work.

I was in Barnes and Noble the other day and saw Crossing, Drive Your Plow, The Memory Police, and Death is Hard Work on the shelves, scattered among the pop fiction. I was pleasantly surprised.

I think this award is having a positive impact, and I hope it continues, so that more people here in the US get exposure to the rest of the world.


message 30: by Scott (new)

Scott Boyd | 111 comments Tracy, I wouldn't be surprised to see The Barefoot Woman as a finalist, but it would be - in my opinion - as an acknowledgment for her body of work, not on this one alone.

That is certainly refreshing to hear that (chain) bookstores are showcasing translated books. The National Book Award is very influential, and I was glad they introduced this category last year.


message 31: by J (last edited Oct 08, 2019 08:00AM) (new)

J | 81 comments Fairly solid list I would say! Happy times.

Khaled Khalifa, Death Is Hard Work
Translated from the Arabic by Leri Price
Farrar, Straus and Giroux / Macmillan Publishers

László Krasznahorkai, Baron Wenckheim’s Homecoming
Translated from the Hungarian by Ottilie Mulzet
New Directions

Scholastique Mukasonga, The Barefoot Woman
Translated from the French by Jordan Stump
Archipelago Books

Yoko Ogawa, The Memory Police
Translated from the Japanese by Stephen Snyder
Pantheon Books / Penguin Random House

Pajtim Statovci, Crossing
Translated from the Finnish by David Hackston
Pantheon Books / Penguin Random House


message 32: by Paul (new)

Paul Fulcher (fulcherkim) | 8246 comments You beat me to in by a minute Blue! - will delete my post to avoid duplication.

Strong list I agree - I should add Death Is Hard Work to my reading list


message 33: by Sam (new)

Sam | 1547 comments Paul wrote: "You beat me to in by a minute Blue! - will delete my post to avoid duplication.

Strong list I agree - I should add Death Is Hard Work to my reading list"

Paul are you reading Baron Wenckham now? I was going to save it for the BTBA since I presumed it might be a contender, but I may just start it this month.


message 34: by Paul (new)

Paul Fulcher (fulcherkim) | 8246 comments I have read around it and flicked through it but am postponing the pleasure. Wanted to read final Goldsmiths book then I will give my undivided attention to the Baron.

I think next year I may then try to reread all 4 in the original order. I don’t think I properly appreciated Melancholy of Resistance at the first read, and War and War felt so different (albeit wonderfully so) that it would be interesting to re-read it in context.


message 35: by June (new)

June | 121 comments Paul wrote: "I think next year I may the..."

Now, what if we have not read ANY of the first three?? Can they be read out of order?


message 36: by Paul (new)

Paul Fulcher (fulcherkim) | 8246 comments Yes in my view.

They are only a tetraology in a very loose sense (no common characters etc, just more an evolution of a theme)

Just that the author himself proclaims:

With this novel I can prove that I really wrote just one book in my life. This is the book—Satantango, Melancholy, War and War, and Baron. This is my one book.

This is a great article on why it is one book - http://www.musicandliterature.org/rev... - which starts by pointing out that it isn't in any conventional sense


message 37: by Scott (new)

Scott Boyd | 111 comments Congratulations, Paul, for picking 4 of the 5 finalists. I didn't do as well (I only picked 3), but I did include Death Is Hard Work, which I thought was much better than The Barefoot Woman.


message 38: by June (new)

June | 121 comments Paul wrote: "Yes in my view.

They are only a tetraology in a very loose sense (no common characters etc, just more an evolution of a theme)

Just that the author himself proclaims:

With this novel I can prove..."


Thanks for the info and link, Paul. I liked that the fourth word in the article was "intimidating." That's how I've felt it to be! I may try to at least read Satantango before diving into Baron Wenckham.


message 39: by Vesna (new)

Vesna (ves_13) I've been planning to read Krasznahorkai for the first time and thought to start with his Baron Wenckheim’s Homecoming. But now, after reading his quoted comment about his 4 novels as one sequential whole (thank you for sharing the quote!), I wonder if I should begin with Satantango. Whenever I want to get into new authors, I like to select the work that shows them at their best and wonder about your impressions of Satantango as a good introduction to Krasznahorkai. Or would starting with this last NBA shortlisted novel be fine?


message 40: by Paul (new)

Paul Fulcher (fulcherkim) | 8246 comments Satantango is a great novel, although I think it would be fine to dive straight in with the Baron.


message 41: by Vesna (new)

Vesna (ves_13) Thank you. I was hoping that Baron would be fine for a start. I was intrigued by it when he declared it as his last novel. Not good news for his admirers but there must be some reason in the novel itself.


message 42: by Sam (new)

Sam | 1547 comments Will and Testament is ranked #1 for absurdist fiction on the U.S. Amazon site and #2 in the same category on the Canadian site. I found that peculiar as I did not see any reviews that indicated the book should be seen as absurdist. I saw more it more seen as autofictional. It makes me curious if the publisher actually considered the book absurdist or if they were justing suggesting it be listed in the many categories to get the prized #1 affiliation.


message 43: by Sam (new)

Sam | 1547 comments Vesna wrote: "I've been planning to read Krasznahorkai for the first time and thought to start with his Baron Wenckheim’s Homecoming. But now, after reading his quoted comment about his 4 novels as one sequentia..."

I am reading the book now and it is fine as a stand alone book. In fact, it seems a good entry level for Krasznahorkai since the tone is a little lighter and the book seems more accessible. It reads smoothly, quickly, and keeps one engaged.


message 44: by Paul (new)

Paul Fulcher (fulcherkim) | 8246 comments Sam wrote: " I found that peculiar as I did not see any reviews that indicated the book should be seen as absurdist."

Well except the novel written by the author's own sister saying Will and Testament was completely absurd.

Sam wrote: "it seems a good entry level for Krasznahorkai since the tone is a little lighter"

Krasznahorkai and lighter - hope he's not gone soft in his dotage :-)


message 45: by Sam (new)

Sam | 1547 comments I am still early in the novel and I don't want to spoiil. You'll notice some differences. I look at it as a different dish on the menu and to me this is more like dessert, or Laszlo suggested in an interview in Asymptope using a musical analogy, a cadenza. One thing I noticed is that this novel reads fast. It is a page-turner. I am purposely trying to slow myself down and pace myself so that I don't read it too quickly and miss everything.


message 46: by Sam (new)

Sam | 1547 comments I very much liked Death is Hard Work and it has moved ahead of The Crossing in my ranking. I saw a lot of negative reviews for this book and I am not sure what those readers expected. Some readers may not have liked the prose which records the relatively dramatic events with understatement and seeming detachment. I used to find that a problem when I first read Camus, but have come to enjoy that style. Others seemed to dislike the weaving of the suspense of the immediate story with the backstory that was revealed through the thoughts of the characters. Again, I found this to be an effective way of concentrating and diffusing tension. Overall this is the second book I found that makes a great Halloween read, with horror depicted in many forms.


message 47: by Ella (new)

Ella (ellamc) | 1019 comments Mod
Sam wrote: "I very much liked Death is Hard Work and it has moved ahead of The Crossing in my ranking. I saw a lot of negative reviews for this book and I am not sure what those readers expected. Some readers ..."

I adored this book. I thought it did exactly what it was supposed to do. I have no idea what I expected (I went in blind - just liked the looks of it in the bookstore and grabbed it) and when I read it, I was really involved with the story I think because of the somewhat detached telling of horrific and terrifying events. I also thought the sibling relationship was extremely well-described, even though we never got a "this is the reason why...", I thought it was both easy to understand and effective. I was truthfully moved by this book, and I don't get the bad reviews. Maybe they thought it was going to be funny?


message 48: by Sam (new)

Sam | 1547 comments Ella wrote: "Sam wrote: "I very much liked Death is Hard Work and it has moved ahead of The Crossing in my ranking. I saw a lot of negative reviews for this book and I am not sure what those readers expected. S..."

That may have been the reason. I have given up looking for much reason in whay i read any more. There is humor in the book. It is very black and absurd but it is there. I like horror as a genre and cannot remember a novel working on so many levels of horror. Visceral, pschological, familial, sociological, spiritual and philosophical, were all addressed and done well. This was not my predicted favorite, but I would not mind it winning. I still have 50% left in Baron Wenckheim before I comment further. One last thought on DIHW. I would absolutely love to see a film of the book by a talented director.


message 49: by Paul (new)

Paul Fulcher (fulcherkim) | 8246 comments I have a bit of a book pile up at the moment so may struggle to get round to it pre announcement but you've convinced me to buy it


message 50: by Tommi (new)

Tommi | 486 comments I’ve been (slowly) listening to the audiobook of Death Is Hard Work and it works really well. This seems like a very strong long/shortlist.


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