Archive for April 2014

2014 Best Translated Book Award Winners Announced

seiobo_there_below_300_462I know you’ve been on tenterhooks ever since the 2014 BTBA finalists were announced two weeks ago, but now the wait is over; the award winners have just been posted on the Three Percent website. I am delighted to announce that the 2014 Best Translated Book Award in Fiction has been awarded to Ottilie Mulzet, translator of Seiobo There Below by László Krasznahorkai (published by New Directions). This is the first time the same author has walked away with the gold two years in a row – an historic moment! – especially as last year’s winning Krasznahorkai novel, Satantango, also published by New Directions, was translated by someone else: Georges Szirtes. The Hungarian translators are on a roll! I’m also so pleased for New Directions, which has been one of my very favorite publishers ever since I was in short pants, i.e. years before I ever translated a book for them.

There are two runners-up for the Fiction BTBA, The African Shore by Rodrigo Rey Rosa, translated from the Spanish by Jeffrey Gray and published by Yale University Press; and A True Novel by Minae Mizumura, translated from the Japanese by Juliet Winters Carpenter and published by Other Press.

The Poetry BTBA has gone to Diana Thow, Sarah Stickney and Eugene Ostashevsky, translators of The Guest in the Wood by Elisa Biagini (publisBiagini best-1hed by Chelsea Editions). This isn’t the first time a team of translators has won in the poetry category – I think it’s the third, in fact, though both other times it was a team of two. There’s something miraculous about great poetry translation, and this repeated celebration of plurality is making me think it’s not coincidental that shared labor (and inspiration and brain-power), is a good way to coax poems from one language to another – helps with Ouija boards too.

The poetry runners-up are: Claude Royet-Journoud’s Four Elemental Bodies, translated from the French by Keith Waldrop, published by Burning Deck, and Sohrab Sepehri’s The Oasis of Now translated from the Persian by Kazim Ali and Mohammad Jafar Mahallati, and published by BOA Editions.

The BTBA celebrates the work of foreign language writers as well as the translator’s art, so each winning author and translator (or team of translators) will receive a cash prize of $5000. This year’s awards both had very impressive shortlists, so particularly hearty congratulations are due to the winners. Can’t wait to read these books!

And if you’d like to toast the winning books and their authors and translators, come out to the BTBA Celebration Party on Friday, May 2, 2014 at The Brooklyneer, 220 West Houston Street, 6:00 – 9:00 p.m.

Translation on Tap in NYC May 5 – 11, 2014

Here’s what’s happening in TranslationLand NYC the week of May 5-11, 2014:

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Screen Shot 2014-04-25 at 4.25.28 PMJurek Becker’s The Wall: And Other Stories: A Conversation with Christine Becker (Jurek Becker’s widow) and Jonathan Becker (his son, who translated some of the stories in this collection – the others were translated by the late Leila Vennewitz). The event will be moderated by Huberta von Voss. Details  here, reservations recommended. NYU Deutsches Haus, 42 Washington Mews, 6:30 p.m.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Metropole II: Rats and Comedy, featuring author Uday Prakash, who writes in Hindi, and his long-time translator, Jason Grunebaum, as well as author Amitava Kumar, moderated by Jonathan Shainin. Details here, reservations recommended. Asian American Writers’ Workshop, 112 W 27th Street, 6th floor, 7:00 p.m.

Friday, May 9, 2014

Translation Night: An Evening of New Translation by the Students of NYU’s French Department M.A. Program in Literary Translation, hosted by Alyson Waters and Emmanuelle Ertel, featuring Emily DeLong Harris, Brett Ray, Yareli Servin, Victoria Sheehan, Elly Thompson and Bonnie Zaleski. La Maison Française, 16 Washington Mews, 7:00 p.m.

Sunday, May 11, 2014Screen Shot 2014-04-25 at 4.24.33 PM

Robert Walser: Nature and the City: A reading and conversation in the Elizabeth Street Garden with Translationista a.k.a. Susan Bernofsky wearing her translator-of-Walser hat, and Mina Pam Dick wearing her Walser-loving-poet’s hat. This event will be part of the opening weekend of a Walser-inspired exhibition entitled  A Particular Kind of Solitude being put on in the garden itself and in the gallery next door at 209 Elizabeth Street (between Prince and Spring Streets) by  Serra Sabuncuoglu. Hope to see you there! 6:00 p.m.

Translationista Has a New Look

I don’t know how the time’s passed so quickly, but this is already the fifth year I’ve been writing this blog. It seems like just yesterday I was setting it up and wondering how many weeks (days?) it would take for me to get tired of writing it. Apparently that hasn’t happened yet. But the blog itself was starting to get a bit tired-looking – it turns out that tastes in web design change almost as quickly as hemlines rise and fall. So I polled all my web-design-savvy friends for ideas as to what a modern blog should look like, and with their help and suggestions, this is what I came up with. Huge thanks to Timothy Schneider of Pixel Juice Productions for translating all my dreams into HTML and CSS. I hope you like.

Cutout portrait Brittany Powell version2

My new picture on the blog is a cut-out portrait by Brittany Powell, originally created to accompany an interview in Yeti 12. I’m grateful to Brittany for permission to reprint her work here. She’s got lots of great projects – check them out!

Also new this month is the little row of sponsored links down the right-hand edge of the blog – I’m now letting publishers who specialize in literature in translation advertise their new books here. I hope you discover some new authors you’ll love by way of these little square links.

And for those of you who’ve been reading this blog for the last several years, leaving comments and sending me notes about what you’ve read here, I can’t thank you enough. I’m proud to be a member of a vibrant community of literary translators both here in New York and around the globe, and I don’t think we’re going to run out of things to talk about any time soon.

International Books and Roses Day 2014

Today is La Diade de Sant Jordi in Catalan lands, a.k.a. St. George’s Day, a.k.a. UNESCO’s World Book Day, a.k.a. International Books & Roses Day. Traditionally, Saint Jordi’s is an old-fashioned sexist holiday (men give women roses; women give men books); not sure I like that division of labor. But nowadays Sant Jordi has been updated (books and blossoms for everyone!), and this coming Saturday April 26 it’ll be celebrated in NYC in perfect form by the Catalan Institute of America in partnership with four publishers/bookshops in Brooklyn’s DUMBO neighborhood that will be presenting an afternoon of micro-readings of translated literature, food, music and, yes, roses.

So join the peregrinations, hear some great stories, and spend the afternoon walking around DUMBO – the weather forecast is good, should be a perfect day for it. There’ll even be a pre-event for kids at Jane’s Carousel (see map) in Brooklyn Bridge Park at high noon, featuring the story of Saint George and the Dragon told in both Catalan in English. I hear there’ll be an actual dragon.

And here’s the lineup for the afternoon:

Stop 1: 1:00-1:30pm Melville House Books—Alex Zucker reads Jachym Topol, Ross Ufberg reads Marek Hłasko
Stop 2: 1:45pm-2:15pm Berl’s Poetry Shop—Alina Gregorian reads from Armenian poets, Rowan Ricardo Phillips reads The Ground, with Catalan translations by Melcion Mateu.
Stop 3: 2:30pm-3pm P.S. Bookshop—Margaret B. Carson reads Sergio Chejpec, Eric Becker reads Mia Couto
Stop 4: 3:15pm-4pm powerHouse Arena—Rowan Ricardo Phillips reads Salvador Espriu, Mary Ann Newman reads Josep Carner, and a special guest will read Josep Pla’s The Gray Notebook. With musical accompaniment by Albert Marquès and Gianna Gagliardi, jazz duet.

See the poster for the map of all the venues, and contact Adina Levin if you have any questions. Happy Sant Jordi’s Day!

Crossing Worlds Conference, May 2-3, 2014

The first weekend of May in NYC is going to be a good one: Even if your spring fever has worn off, you’ll have the chance to see a handful of luminaries in the field of translation studies speaking at a really excellent-sounding conference, which is open to the general public: “Crossing Worlds: Translation, Eventfulness and the Political.” The conference is a co-production of the Center for Translation Studies at Barnard College and the Columbia Institute for Comparative Literature and Society.

The program is split over a Friday and Saturday and a pair of venues: the elegant James Room in Barnard Hall and Columbia’s Maison Française.

Here’s an account of the questions on the organizers’ minds as they assembled the program:

Translation has long been approached in terms of linguistic reciprocity, equivalences, commensurability or incommensurability, as well as the promise or withdrawal of meaning among languages. But can the eventfulness of translation itself be thought? For instance, in what ways may translation help us reimagine the boundaries of past and present, of here and there, moments of epistemic rupture, cultural negotiation, political violence, mediation and remediation, and so on? Does the eventfulness of translation reside in the textual world, such as treaties, novels, letters, news, legal code, and other documents and publications? Or does it lie in the translation machine, mechanical, bureaucratic, automatic, or otherwise? Or rather, is it to be located in the mind of the translator and his/her reader? Since the problem of translation is ubiquitous and cuts across so many disciplines and fields, the study of this subject cannot but move beyond conventional translation studies. Currently, new approaches are being developed here and there to open up the field to other kinds of inquiries, and we have arrived at a point where the eventfulness of translation needs to be interrogated.

Here’s the list of speakers:

Emily Apter (NYU), Tamara Chin (Brown), Peter Connor (Barnard), Souleymane Bachir Diagne (Columbia), Karen Van Dyck (Columbia), Brent Edwards (Columbia), Nergis Ertürk (Penn State), Stathis Gourgouris (Columbia), Michael Hill (University of South Carolina), Lydia Liu (Columbia), Rosalind Morris (Columbia), Brian O’Keeffe (Barnard), Avital Ronell (NYU), Naoki Sakai (Cornell), Shaden Tageldin (University of Minnesota), Phillip John Usher (Barnard), Hent de Vries (Johns Hopkins), and David Wills (Brown).

For complete schedule and venue information, check the conference website; if you have questions, contact Casey McNamara.

Translation on Tap in NYC April 26 – May 3, 2014

Here’s what’s coming up:

Everything Happens as It DoesThursday, April 24, 2014
Book launch for Everything Happens as It Does by Albena Stambolova, translated from the Bulgarian by Olga Nikolova. Stambolova and Nikolova will be joined by critic Dimitar Kambourov and Asymptote editor Eric Becker. General Consulate of the Republic of Bulgaria, 121 East 62nd Street, 7:00 p.m.

Friday, April 25, 2014
Translating the Untranslatable: Contemporary Poetry Translation in the U.S. – a roundtable and reading featuring Pierre Alferi, Anne Portugal, Charles Bernstein, Cole Swensen, Pierre Joris, Tracy Grinnell, and Avital Ronell. NYU French Department, 19 University Place, 6th floor, 2:00 – 6:00 p.m.

Friday April 25, 2014
Contemporary French Poetry in the U.S.: Translating, Publishing, Adapting. With French and American poets Pierre Alferi, Anne Portugal, Charles Bernstein, Cole Swensen, Pierre Joris and Tracy Grinnell, presented by Vincent Broqua. McNally Jackson, 52 Prince Street, 8:00 p.m.

From Translation All Science Had Its OffspringMonday, April 28, 2014
“From Translation All Science Had Its Offspring”: Launch event for the new modernized and annotated edition of John Florio’s 1603 translShakespeare’s Montaigne), featuring co-editor Peter Platt in conversation with Phillip John Usher. James Room, 4th Floor, Barnard Hall, Barnard College (Broadway and 117th, New York City), 6:30 p.m.
ation of Michel de Montaigne’s Essays

Josef Winkler

Josef Winkler

Tuesday, April 29
An Evening with Josef Winkler
The acclaimed Austrian author will present the English translations of his novels Natura Morta and When the Time Comes with his translator Adrian West as part of an evening of music and dance at the Austrian Cultural Forum, 11 E. 52nd St., (between Madison and Fifth), 7:30 p.m.

Jessica Cohen and Evan Fallenberg

Jessica Cohen and Evan Fallenberg

Thursday, May 1
The Bridge Series goes Hebrew (הגשר) with translator Jessica Cohen and translator/author Evan Fallenberg reading and discussing their work. Details here. McNally Jackson Books, 52 Prince St., 7:00 p.m.

Friday, May 2
Best Translated Book Award Celebration Party – toast the 2014 winners in Fiction and Poetry at  The Brooklyneer, 220 West Houston Street, 6:00 – 9:00 p.m.

And don’t forget the PEN World Voices Festival April 28 – May 4, including various translation events.


Translation Events at 2014 PEN World Voices Festival

The theme of this year’s PEN World Voices Festival (April 28 – May 4) is Literature on the Edge, and as usual the Translation Committee has put together a themed panel (Translation on the Edge) to suggest ways of considering the festival’s theme with regard to translators and translation. A new edition of the ever-popular Translation Slam will be included in this year’s festival as well.

Here’s a complete rundown of the translation-related events. Tickets to any of them can be purchased at a 20% discount using the code PEN2014 (for events at the Public Theater) or PEN14 (for all others).

Tuesday, April 29
Master Class: Adonis and Jorie Graham with translator Khaled Mattawa
In a rare visit to the States, once-imprisoned Syrian author Adonis, considered by many to be the most important Arab poet, will speak with celebrated American poet Jorie Graham and award-winning translator and scholar Khaled Mattawa.
Anspacher, The Public Theater, 425 Lafayette Street
7:00 p.m.

Friday, May 2
Translation Slam
What happens when a poem migrates into another language, not just once but twice? Find out at the Translation Slam, a perennial Festival favorite! The M.C. will be Michael F. Moore, joined by translators Kerri Pierce, Baba Badji, Emmanuelle Ertel and K.E. Semmel, along with poets Tracy K. Smith and Pejk Malinovski. The slam will feature feats of English-to-French and Danish-to-English translation.
Anspacher, The Public Theater, 425 Lafayette Street
9:00 p.m.

Saturday, May 3
Translating on the Edge
Translation can be dangerous and subversive from a literary perspective. It can also take on a political or ideological dimension. This panel brings together translators who have worked with texts considered blasphemous, obscene, or otherwise dangerous to offer their views on the place where art meets politics.
With Robyn Creswell, Bonnie Huie, and Sara Khalili, moderated by Heather Cleary for the PEN Translation Committee
The Frederick P. Rose Auditorium, The Cooper Union
41 Cooper Square (Third Avenue @ 6th Street)
1:00 p.m.

Visit for more information including a complete schedule, and remember the discount codes PEN2014 (for the Public Theater) and PEN14 (for other venues), which will get you a 20% discount on tickets to any of the ticketed events.


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