Random Updates: What I’m Reading, WIT Month Cometh, Summer Holiday Reading & Two Translation Awards Get Together

July 14, 2015 § 7 Comments

I’m currently enjoying The Brotherhood of Book Hunters by Raphaël Jerusalmy – a swashbuckling Alexander Dumas kind of tale translated from the French by Howard Curtis.  It’s completely charming!  The two main characters remind me quite a bit of Fritz Leiber’s Fafhrd & the Gray Mouser.  Jerusalmy has taken what’s best about sword & sorcery fiction and moved it into a historical setting – 15th century France, Jerusalum & (perhaps, I haven’t gotten that far yet) Italy.  I’m not sure if he did it on purpose – this is where an introduction or translator’s note would be helpful – but the parallels are there all the same.

Have I mentioned lately how I wish more books included Introductions, Forwards, Afterwards & Translator’s Notes? Obviously not all at once – there wouldn’t be much room for an actual story – but any combination/variation of the above would be acceptable & is always appreciated.

August is Biblibio’s 2nd Annual Women In Translation Month  – I’m hoping to take a more active part this year and with that in mind I’ve been putting together a tentative list of books to read & review.  There was a link on Twitter this morning to the New  Yorker article “The True Glamour of Clarice Lispector” (am I the only one who is constantly thrown off by the similarity between “Lispector” and “Inspector”?)  It was written by Benjamin Moser – well, taken from an introduction Moser wrote to a New Directions collection of her work, to be exact.  Benjamin Moser also wrote a biography of Inspector Lispector (see!?).

I’m very interested in reading that biography, titled Why This World: A Biography of Clarice Lispector, despite the fact that I still need to read anything by her. A deficiency I hope to correct soon. Thanks in a large part to New Directions the English translations of her work seem to be enjoying a well-deserved moment in the California sun. And from what I’ve heard about her books she seems to belong to The Club of Fierce Women Writers – members include Marie NDiaye, Naja Marie Aidt, Yoko Ogawa, Anne Garréta, & Therese Bohman (to name a few).  Women writers who aren’t afraid to leave it all on the page.

If you’re not already planning to take part in #WITM2015 follow this link to a great post listing FAQ’s & suggestions on ways to participate.  The only real requirement is to read women writers who’ve been translated into English.  And if you’d like some recommendations (or would like to leave some recommendations) feel free to use the comments section below.

More August News:  This year we’ve scheduled our Summer Holiday for the end of August and I’m already putting together a list of books to read poolside.  A solid seven days of uninterrupted reading time – bliss!  5 books seems to be a safe, and somewhat realistic, number.  Current contenders are:

  • War, So Much War by Mercè Rodoreda, tr. Maruxa Relaño & Martha Tennent
  • The Truth About the Harry Quebert Affair by Joel Dicker, tr. Sam Taylor
  • Decoded by Mai Jia, tr. Olivia Milburn & Christopher Payne
  • A Clarice Lispector book & biography double-header
  • Hollow Heart by Viola Di Grado, tr. Antony Shugaar

Of course this list will change at least 12 times between now and then.  Not least because I don’t think the Viola De Grado book is going to last (i.e.- remain unread) until then.

By now everyone has heard that the Man Booker International Prize and the International Foreign Fiction Prize have joined forces… just when the Man Booker International Prize finally had a list that was actually interesting!  In my unsolicited opinion the whole thing seems like a step backwards for International & Translated Literature. The two prizes evaluated two entirely different things – the former celebrating an international author, the latter an individual book published within the same year.  Of course, now the translator will be recognized (obviously a good thing) .  And the Man Booker International Prize list is usually a huge disappointment.  But wasn’t it lovely seeing the likes of Mabanckou, Aira, Van Niekerk, Krasznahorkai, Condé & Ghosh all up for the same award in 2015?

Your thoughts?

2015 Translation Awards – By the Numbers

April 13, 2015 § 7 Comments

None of the 10 authors nominated for the Man Booker International Prize has a book on the 4 longlists.

There are 76 spots on the combined longlists, including the 6 write-in spots for the Typographical Translation Prize. (3 of the 6 write-in titles show up on 1 of the 3 other longlists).

There are 62 unique titles across the 4 lists.

34 of the books are from Europe, 14 Latin America, 9 from Asia, 3 from Africa, 1 from the Middle East, 1 from North America.

France has the most books on the combined lists – 7.

There are 19 female authors represented & 41 male authors.

Bohumil Hrabal has 2 separate titles on The Best Translated Book Award longlist (translated by 2 different translators).

The I Ching translated by John Minford has no attributable author.

Baboon by Naja Marie Aidt, translated by Denise Newman, is the only title on 3 lists – The Best Translated Book Award, The PEN Translation Prize & The Typographical Translation Prize.  All 3 are American prizes, which has me wondering whether it is eligible for the Independent Foreign Fiction Prize?

12 titles appear on 2 of the lists.

Texas. The Great Theft by Carmen Boullosa, translated by Samantha Schnee won The Typographical Translation Prize and is longlisted for the PEN Translation Prize.

There are 58 individual translators across the 4 longlists.

4 titles were translated by a pair/team of translators.

2 translators on The Typographical Translation Prize longlist are brother & sister. Neither won.

7 translators have 2 books on the lists – Andrew Bromfield, Daniel Hahn, Silvestor Mazarella, Polly Gannon, Margaret Jull Costa, Jordan Stump & Don Bartlett.

Margaret Jull Costa is competing against herself for the Best Translated Book Award.


Translation Award Season – The 2015 Edition

April 8, 2015 § 6 Comments

‘Tis the season for Translation Awards.  The 2015 Best Translated Book Award, Independent Foreign Fiction Prize, PEN Translation Prize, Man Booker International Prize and Typographical Translation Prize (which has already been selected) – I’ve included the long lists for all five below.  This year I thought it would be fun to put them all in one place and compare.  Later this week I’ll be taking a closer look…  But for now, enjoy!

2015 Best Translated Book Award

  • Baboon by Naja Marie Aidt, translated by Denise Newman (Denmark, Two Lines Press)
  • The Author and Me by Éric Chevillard, translated by Jordan Stump (France, Dalkey Archive Press)
  • Fantomas Versus the Multinational Vampires by Julio Cortázar, translated by David Kurnick (Argentina, Semiotext(e))
  • Pushkin Hills by Sergei Dovlatov, translated by Katherine Dovlatov (Russia, Counterpoint Press)
  • 1914 by Jean Echenoz, translated by Linda Coverdale (France, New Press)
  • Street of Thieves by Mathias Énard, translated by Charlotte Mandell (France, Open Letter Books)
  • Those Who Leave and Those Who Stay by Elena Ferrante, translated by Ann Goldstein (Italy, Europa Editions)
  • Things Look Different in the Light by Medardo Fraile, translated by Margaret Jull Costa (Spain, Pushkin Press)
  • Monastery by Eduardo Halfon, translated by Lisa Dillman and Daniel Hahn (Guatemala, Bellevue Literary Press)
  • Letters from a Seducer by Hilda Hilst, translated by John Keene (Brazil, Nightboat Books)
  • Harlequin’s Millions by Bohumil Hrabal, translated by Stacey Knecht (Czech Republic, Archipelago Books)
  • Rambling On: An Apprentice’s Guide to the Gift of the Gab by Bohumil Hrabal, translated by David Short (Czech Republic, Karolinum Press)
  • The Woman Who Borrowed Memories by Tove Jansson, translated by Thomas Teal and Silvester Mazzarella (Finland, New York Review Books)
  • Works by Edouard Levé, translated by Jan Steyn (France, Dalkey Archive Press)
  • Faces in the Crowd by Valeria Luiselli, translated by Christina MacSweeney (Mexico, Coffee House Press)
  • Adam Buenosayres by Leopoldo Marechal, translated by Norman Cheadle and Sheila Ethier (Argentina, McGill-Queen’s University Press)
  • Last Words from Montmartre by Qiu Miaojin, translated by Ari Larissa Heinrich (Taiwan, New York Review Books)
  • Winter Mythologies and Abbots by Pierre Michon, translated by Ann Jefferson (France, Yale University Press)
  • Our Lady of the Nile by Scholastique Mukasonga, translated by Melanie Mauthner (Rwanda, Archipelago Books)
  • Talking to Ourselves by Andrés Neuman, translated by Nick Caistor and Lorenza Garcia (Argentina, Farrar, Straus and Giroux)
  • Granma Nineteen and the Soviet’s Secret by Ondjaki, translated by Stephen Henighan (Angola, Biblioasis)
  • La Grande by Juan José Saer, translated by Steve Dolph (Argentina, Open Letter Books)
  • Paris by Marcos Giralt Torrente, translated by Margaret Jull Costa (Spain, Hispabooks)
  • Snow and Shadow by Dorothy Tse, translated by Nicky Harman (Hong Kong, East Slope Publishing)
  • The Last Lover by Can Xue, translated by Annelise Finegan Wasmoen (China, Yale University Press)

2015 Independent Foreign Fiction Prize 

  • Bloodlines by Marcello Fois, translated by Silvester Mazzarella (Italy, MacLehose Press)
  • Boyhood Island by Karl Ove Knausgaard, translated by Don Bartlett (Norway, Harvill Secker)
  • By Night the Mountain Burns by Juan Tomás Ávila Laurel, translated by Jethro Soutar (Equatorial Guinea, And Other Stories)
  • Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage by Haruki Murakami, translated by Philip Gabriel (Japanese, Harvill Secker)
  • F by Daniel Kehlmann by Daniel Kehlmann, translated by Carol Brown Janeway (Germany, Quercus)
  • In the Beginning Was the Sea by Tomás González, translated by Frank Wynne (Colombia, Pushkin Press)
  • Look Who’s Back by Vernes Timur, translated by Jamie Bulloch (Germany, MacLehose Press/Quercus)
  • The Dead Lake by Hamid Ismailov, translated by Andrew Bromfield (Russian, Peirene Press)
  • The End of Days by Jenny Erpenbeck, translated by Susan Bernofsky (Germany, Portobello Books)
  • The Giraffe’s Neck by Judith Schalansky, translated by Shaun Whiteside (Germany, Bloomsbury)
  • The Investigation by J.M. Lee, translated by Chi-Young Kim (Korea, Mantle/Pan Macmillan)
  • The Last Lover by Can Xue, translated by Annelise Finegan (Chinese, Yale University Press)
  • The Ravens by Tomas Bannerhed, translated by Sarah Death (Sweden, Clerkenwell Press)
  • Tiger Milk by Stefanie De Velasco, translated by Tim Mohr (Germany, Head of Zeus)
  • While the Gods Were Sleeping by Erwin Mortier, translated by Paul Vincent (Belgium, Pushkin Press)

The 2015 PEN Translation Prize

  • Trans-Atlantyk by Witold Gombrowicz, translated by Danuta Borchardt (Poland, Yale/Margellos)
  • The Gray Notebook by Josep Pla, translated by Peter Bush (Spain, New York Review Books)
  • The Symmetry Teacher by Andrei Bitov, translated by Polly Gannon (Russia, Farrar, Straus and Giroux)
  • The Master of Confessions by Thierry Cruvellier, translated by Alex Gilly (Franc, Ecco)
  • The Man Who Loved Dogs by Leonardo Padura, translated by Anna Kushner (Cuba, Farrar, Straus and Giroux)
  • I Ching, translated by John Minford (China, Viking Books)
  • Baboon by Naja Marie Aidt, translated by Denise Newman (Denmark, Two Lines Press)
  • Texas: The Great Theft by Carmen Boullosa, translated by Samantha Schnee  (Mexico, Deep Vellum Publishing)
  • Self-Portrait in Green by Marie NDiaye, translated by Jordan Stump (France, Two Lines Press)
  • The Woman Who Borrowed Memories by Tove Jansson, translated by Thomas Teal & Silvester Mazzarella (Finland, New York Review Books)

The 2014 Typographical Translation Prize 

  • Baboon by Naja Marie Aidt, translated by Denise Newman (Greenland, Two Lines Press)
  • The Symmetry Teacher by Andrei Bitov, translated by Polly Gannon (Russia, Farrar, Straus and Giroux)
  • The Corpse Exhibition by Hassan Blasim, translated by Jonathan Wright (Iraq/Finland, Penguin)
  • A Little Lumpen Novelita by Roberto Bolano, translated by Natasha Wimmer (Chile, New Directions)
  • The Author and Me by Éric Chevillard, translated by Jordan Stump (France, Dalkey Archive Press)
  • 1914 by Jean Echenoz, translated by Linda Coverdale (France, The New Press)
  • Those Who Leave and Those Who Stay by Elena Ferrante, translated by Ann Goldstein (Italy, Europa Editions)
  • With My Dog Eyes by Hilda Hilst, translated by Adam Morris (Brazil, Melville House)
  • The Hunting Gun by Yasushi Inoue, translated by Michael Emmerich (Japan, Pushkin Press)
  • F by Daniel Kehlmann, translated by Carol Janeway (Germany, Pantheon)
  • My Struggle Book Three: Boyhood by Karl Ove Knausgard, translated by Don Bartlett (Norway, Archipelago)
  • Summer House With Swimming Pool by Herman Koch, translated by Sam Garrett (Netherlands, Hogarth)
  • Faces in the Crowd by Valeria Luiselli, translated by Christina MacSweeney (Mexico, Coffee House Press)
  • Why I Killed My Best Friend by Amanda Michalopoulou, translated by Karen Emmerich (Greece, Open Letter Books)
  • The Man With the Compound Eyes by Wu Ming-yi, translated by Darryl Sterk (Taiwan, Pantheon)
  • Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage by Haruki Murakami, translated by Philip Gabriel (Japan, Knopf)
  • Natural Histories by Guadalupe Nettel, translated by J.T. Lichtenstein (Mexico, Seven Stories Press)
  • Talking to Ourselves by Andrés Neuman, translated by Nick Caistor & Lorenza Garcia (Argentina, FSG)
  • The Light and the Dark by Mikhail Shishkin, translated by Andrew Bromfield (Russia, Quercus)
  • The Cold Song by Linn Ullmann, translated by Barbara J. Haveland (Norway, Other Press)
  • Texas: The Great Theft by Carmen Boullosa, translated by Samantha Schnee (Mexico, Deep Vellum) – Write In / WINNER
  • Paris by Marcos Giralt Torrente, translated by Margaret Jull Costa (Spain, Hispabooks) – Write In
  • Harlequin’s Millions by Bohumil Hrabel, translated by Stacey Knecht (Czech Republic, Archipelago) – Write In
  • Nowhere People by Paulo Scott, translated by Daniel Hahn (Brazil, And Other Stories) – Write In
  • Guyana by Elise Turcotte, translated by Rhonda Mullins (French Canada, Coach House Books) – Write In
  • The Book of Sins by Chen Xiwo, translated by Nicky Harman (China, Forty-Six) – Write In

The Man Booker International Prize 2015

  • César Aira (Argentina)
  • Ibrahim al-Koni (Libya)
  • Hoda Barakat (Lebanon)
  • Maryse Condé (Guadeloupe/France)
  • Mia Couto (Mozambique)
  • Amitav Ghosh (Calcutta)
  • Fanny Howe (U.S.A.)
  • László Krasznahorkai (Hungary)
  • Alain Mabanckou (Congo/France)
  • Marlene Van Niekerk (South Africa)




Brooklyn Book Festival 2014

September 29, 2014 § Leave a comment

My re-cap of the Brooklyn Book Fest is over at Literary Kicks this year. Click on the picture to read the post.

National Book Foundation Bulletin Board at the 2014 Brooklyn Book Festival : What are you reading?

National Book Foundation Bulletin Board at the 2014 Brooklyn Book Festival : What are you reading?


More Updates From A BookSexy World…

May 28, 2014 § Leave a comment

Despite the infrequent updates over the last few months, the world of translation has been hopping over the past month.  So here are some random bits and bobs from the month of May.

PEN Translation Festival

I was lucky enough to get tickets to two events for the Pen World Voices Literary Festival:  The Re-Interviews of Martin Amis & Michael Stipe and Translating On the Edge, a panel sponsored by the PEN Translation Committee.  Amis & Stipe were charming, fascinating, charismatic and everything you’d expect two celebrities to be.  And the premise behind the their re-interviews, hosted by (who else?) Interview Magazine, was truly brilliant.  Three people were on the stage at a time: the interviewer, an actor playing the interviewee and the man, himself.  The actors read Amis’ & Stipe’s answers from past interviews (some dating, in Amis’ case, as far back as the 1970’s).  Giving the interviewer a chance to address his/her questions to both Amis’ & Stipe’s younger and present selves.  Amis & Stipe were then able to correct or confirm the record.

Amis was, as is to be expected, incredibly charming & erudite. Stipe was a bit less articulate – but wonderfully animated and remarkably candid. I attended with a friend and we both enjoyed ourselves immensely.  We spent the next morning recounting the entire event – virtually word for word – to her husband’s amusement over breakfast. I can only hope it will become a regular feature of the Festival.

Thanks to an email from the translator, Margaret Carson, I bought a last minute ticket to the Translating On the Edge Panel (sponsored by the PEN Translation Committee) moderated by Heather Cleary.  On the panel were three translators: Sara Khalili (Censoring of an Iranian Love Story by Shariar Mandanipour), Robyn Creswell (That Smell by Sonallah Ibrahim) and Bonnie Huie (Notes of a Crocodile by Qiu Miaojin).  Cleary did a wonderful job – keeping just the right balance between readings and actual discussion.  


Huie’s reading from Notes of a Crocodile, the only book of the three that I wasn’t familiar with, stood out.  Notes of a Crocodile is scheduled to be published by New York Review of Books Classics.  They also published the English translation of Miaojin’s Last Words from Montmarte.  For those of you, like me, who never heard of this incredible author: Qui Miaojin was a Taiwanese author who committed suicide in 1995 at the tragic age of 26.  She won the  China Times Literature Award for Notes of a Crocodile. The novel is considered a cult classic – in part due to the GLBT subject matter (Miaojin was openly lesbian). I wasn’t able to find a release date online, but here’s an excerpt posted on the Asian American Writers’ Workshop website.  And definitely check out the video. The entire panel was excellent – but if you’re limited for time take a moment to fast-forward to Bonnie Huie’s reading.

Women in Translation Month 2014Women In Translation Month

If you haven’t heard – Biblibio is declaring August WOMEN IN TRANSLATION MONTH.  There’s a badge for readers & bloggers who take part, a hashtag #WomenInTranslation or #WITMonth on Twitter, and a schedule of activities forthcoming. This all began in December when Biblibio crunched the numbers and realized that less than 30% of the books translated in 2013 were by women authors.  She’s continued to explore the topic – looking at specific publishers, polling readers and bloggers, and putting up  this incredible May 25th post featuring an embarrassing riches of charts and graphs. Whether or not you want to acknowledge the bias (I’ve had a hard time with it if only because it seems so ridiculous/unbelievable… and then I took the time to examine my own *blush* reading history) Biblibio makes a solid case.  Her sampling is manageable because the number of books in translation published each year is relatively small, and thanks to the database put out by Three Percent she has all the data she needs.  The numbers don’t lie.  So support the cause, people – read a female author in translation! If you love to read, if you love reading translations, it’s  an important one to bet behind.

Some Award News

I’m not sure why, but I’ve been suffering from a case of literary award fatigue. But in case you haven’t:

Best Translate Book Award went to 2x winner László Krasznahorkai with his novel Seiobo Down Below, translated by Ottilie Mulzet

Independent Foreign Fiction Prize went to Hassin Blasim for his novel The Iraqi Christ, translated by Jonathan Wright – the first Arabic novel to win the Prize

AND – the lesser known French-American Foundation’s Translation Prize went to Electrico W by Herve Le Tellier, translated by Adriana Hunter – beating out a shortlist that included both The Conductor and Other Tales by Jean Ferry (translated by Edward Gauvin), All My Friends by Marie NDiaye (translated by Gordan Stump).

Reading Update

And here’s what I’m currently reading (as I type this, I’m embarrassed to realize that there are no women on the list):
  • Château D’Argol by Julien Gracq, translated by Louies Varèse
  • The Corpse Exhibition & Other Stories of Iraq by Hassan Blasim, translated by Jonathan Wright
  • Ten Years In the Tub: A Decade Soaking in Great Books by Nick Hornby




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