A Big Week in Translation

IMG_5235Well, call it coincidence, call it fate or call it incredibly sloppy planning, but this week has certainly been a big one in the world of literature in translation.  Regular readers will have been aware of one major event happening in the UK this week, but across the Atlantic, there was even more going on.  Let’s see if we can summarise all the events and awards, and get you all up to date on the state of affairs in the world of translation 🙂

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First up, the 2015 PEN/Heim Translation Fund Winners were announced on Tuesday, with sixteen translators awarded US$3,100 each to assist in the completion of their translation project.  The prize was made possible a while back by a large donation (anonymous at the time) from the well-known translator Michael Henry Heim, allowing a range of translators more time to work on their passion. The latest list has a wonderful mix of poetry and prose, works from many parts of the world and (most importantly for some) a fairly reasonable gender balance in terms of both translators and writers.  Not all of the books have found publishers yet, so if anyone out there in publishing land likes what they see… 😉

This week also saw the Neustadt Prize announce the finalists for the 2016 edition of their IMG_5189award.  It has been dubbed the ‘American Nobel’, and when you look at the list of Laureates, they have every reason to be fairly happy with what they do.  This year, in a possible sign of a changing environment in the world of translation, of the nine finalists, seven are female.  I can’t say I’ve heard of all of the writers nominated, but one name is rather familiar…

Which brings us on to the next of our prize announcements, the bestowal of this year’s Best Translated Book Awards!  The poetry prize was taken out by Rocío Cerón’s Diorama (translated by Anna Rosenwong, published by Phoneme Media) while the fiction prize went to Can Xue’s The Last Lover (translated by Annelise Finegan Wasmoen, published by Yale University Press).  The sharp-eyed among you may have noticed that all four of the writers and translators honoured here are women, and (to link back to the previous announcement) one of those Neustadt nominees was none other than Can Xue herself – now *that’s* a good day’s work 🙂

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EODLet’s hop across the pond to London now, where – at almost the exact same time as the BTBA announcements were being made! – the 2015 Independent Foreign Fiction Prize was drawing to its close.  In what (for me, at least) was a fairly foregone conclusion, this year’s prize went to… another all-female team 🙂  This year’s choice was Jenny Erpenbeck’s The End of Days, translated by Susan Bernofsky and published by Portobello Books, and (for once) I’m very happy with the choice.  I read this a couple of times while undertaking my Shadow Panel duties, and it’s a book I thoroughly enjoyed, easily the best of the six on the official shortlist.  Now, if certain other books had made that shortlist, perhaps the choice wouldn’t have been quite so obvious… 😉  Congratulations again to Erpenbeck and her translator – given the work Bernofsky does in promoting translation (including on her Translationista blog), it’s nice to see her being rewarded 🙂

On a personal note, it was great to see the IFFP come to a happy conclusion as most years see me (and many of my co-conspirators) in a depressed heap, having been disappointed once again.  It’s no secret that we don’t always see eye to eye with the real IFFP judges, but this year proved to be an exception as we in the Shadow Panel had already crowned The End of Days our champion earlier in the day.  That decision was the culmination of months of discussions and hard work, and it was a fitting end to all our deliberations.  Thanks go to all my fellow jurors – I hope many will be back next year 🙂

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And that’s it – the end of not just a busy week, but a busy few months in the world of translation.  While I’m secretly glad to be a little less busy with all the reading and discussions, it’s going to be a little quieter now that all the fuss is over, and I’m not sure what I’m going to do to entertain myself.

Then again, I suppose I do have an awful lot of books to read… 😉

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