National Book Foundation Announces a National Book Award for Translated Literature

In an article in the New York Times this morning, the National Book Foundation (which gives out the prestigious National Book Awards) announced that beginning this year, annual awards will be presented in the category Literary Translation (joining the categories Poetry, Fiction, Nonfiction and Young People’s Literature), with the prize honoring both the translator and the author of the translated work of fiction or nonfiction. Giving translation prizes isn’t new for the NBF: National Book Awards in Translation were given out between 1967 (to Gregory Rabassa, for One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez) and 1983 (to Richard Howard, for Les fleurs du mal by Charles Baudelaire), but the prize has been in abeyance for 35 years. I’m so glad it’s back! Having this major set of awards include translation among its genres is a powerful statement of the NBF’s belief in the importance of international literature and translation. As NBF executive director Lisa Lucas told the New York Times: “The less we know about the rest of the world, the worse off we are.” Like the other National Book Awards, this one comes with a prize of $10,000 (split between translator and author) and a commemorative sculpture, with $1000 for the runners-up. Application guidelines will be posted on May 7 on the National Book Foundation website, with a longlist expected the week of Sept. 10 and finalists on Oct. 10. The winner will be announced at the NBF’s annual award ceremony and gala on Nov. 14.

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