To state the obvious: genre fiction of all sorts, regardless of quality, is generally underrepresented if not outright neglected in the world of literary awards, and it’s no different with awards for literary translation. Given that many publishers of genre fiction do what they can to downplay the fact that the books they publish in translation were not written originally in English, translators of these works tend to get very little recognition indeed. So I am very happy to see a new award established specifically to honor translators of science fiction and fantasy. Hey, I grew up on Stanislaw Lem and was thrilled to discover that Michael Kandel, translator of many books I devoured as a teenager, was my colleague on the PEN Translation Committee here in New York. Obviously genre literature and the the “literary mainstream” overlap, sometimes even in the world of prizes, as is clear when you look at the list of finalists in the “long form” (book length) category of the newly-established Science Fiction and Fantasy Awards administered by the recently incorporated Association for the Recognition of Excellence in SF & F Translation based, not surprisingly, in California. One of the finalists for the new award, Edward Gauvin’s translation of A Life on Paper: Stories by Georges-Olivier Châteaureynaud, was also a finalist for the 2011 Best Translated Book Award.
Here are the complete lists of finalists:
The Golden Age, Michal Ajvaz, translated by Andrew Oakland (Dalkey Archive Press). Original publication in Czech as Zlatý Věk (2001).
The Ice Company, G.-J. Arnaud [Georges-Camille Arnaud], translated by Jean-Marc Lofficier and Randy Lofficier (Black Coat Press). Original publication in French as La Compagnie des Glaces (1980).
A Life on Paper: Stories, Georges-Olivier Châteaureynaud, translated by Edward Gauvin (Small Beer Press). Original publication in French (1976 -2005).
Four Stories till the End, Zoran Živković, translated by Alice Copple- Tošić (Kurodahan Press). Original publication in Serbian as Četiri priče do kraja (2004).
“Wagtail”, Marketta Niemelä, translated by Liisa Rantalaiho (Usva International 2010, ed. Anne Leinonen). Original publication in Finnish as “Västäräkki” (Usva (The Mist), 2008).
“Elegy for a Young Elk”, Hannu Rajaniemi, translated by Hannu Rajaniemi (Subterranean Online, Spring 2010). Original publication in Finnish (Portti, 2007).
“Bear’s Bride”, Johanna Sinisalo, translated by Liisa Rantalaiho (The Beastly Bride: Tales of the Animal People, eds. Ellen Datlow and Terri Windling, Viking). Original publication in Finnish as “Metsän tutt” (Aikakone (Time Machine), 3/1991).
“Midnight Encounters”, Hirai Tei’ichi, translated by Brian Watson (Kaiki: Uncanny Tales from Japan, Vol. 2, Kurodahan Press). Original publication in Japanese (1960).
It’s curious to see Finland so heavily represented on this list; will the next international bestseller of genre fiction be a Finn? Otherwise the finalists are French, Japanese and Eastern European, i.e. from parts of the world with longstanding international reputations in this area.
The winners will be announced at the 2011 Eurocon in Stockholm the weekend of June 17-19.
Update: The prizes went to the following works:
(Long Form) A Life on Paper: Stories, Georges-Olivier Châteaureynaud, translated by Edward Gauvin (Small Beer Press). Original publication in French (1976 -2005).
(Short Form) “Elegy for a Young Elk”, Hannu Rajaniemi, translated by Hannu Rajaniemi (Subterranean Online, Spring 2010). Original publication in Finnish (Portti, 2007).
For honorable mentions, statements about the winning works by members of the jury, and acceptance speeches, see the SFFTA website.