Who Wrote the Best Translated Book of 2015?

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Has translated literature in the United States turned a corner? With some exceptions, readers of literature in translation (which should include every schoolchild in the land) no longer wait listlessly for their favorite authors to be translated. Thanks to a thriving, industrious translation community at home and abroad, the situation is now the opposite: brilliant unknown or unfamiliar authors are published every month, along with new translations of classics, lost or beloved. Surely there is still work to be done, but we have the translation community to thank for doing it.

With this in mind, it’s time to consider the Best Translated Book Awards for 2015. This morning, the Three Percent website announced the longlist for the award, which contains a handful of well-known writers and a trove of new required reading. Fifteen judges read for the award, and, notably, more than 500 works of fiction in translation and 100 books of translated poetry were considered for the list. By contrast, Three Percent explains, only 360 total books were considered in 2008.

“Not only were there more eligible titles than ever, they came from more diverse sources,” said judge James Crossley of Island Books. “From different nations and languages, but also from different publishers around the world, many of them brand-new and dedicated exclusively to literature in translation. I can’t help think that the BTBA in some small way helped usher these publishers into existence.”

The longlist in fiction includes Elena Ferrante’s Those Who Stay, the third book in her Neapolitan Trilogy; Fantomas Versus the Multinational, a rediscovered work by Julio Cortázar, author of Hopscotch; and Faces in the Crowd, the debut novel by Valeria Luiselli. The list also represents 14 languages, 23 nationalities, and 50 translators, including Margaret Jull Costa, Cole Swenson, and Charlotte Mandell. Notable exclusions? In what will continue to be the year of the backlash against Karl Ove Knausgaard, the third volume of My Struggle was left off the list. So, too, was Carmen Bollousa’s excellent Texas: The Great Theft, published by the up-and-coming Deep Vellum press of Dallas, and translated by Samantha Schnee.

But you’d be hard-pressed to find a more democratic longlist for an award in publishing. The list includes stellar small presses, like Coffee House; important new translation-only presses, like Two Lines Press out of California; and consistent, pathbreaking stalwarts like Open Letter and Archipelago. It also features a selection of translation-friendly academic presses and larger houses, like FSG.

The finalist for both the fiction and poetry awards will be announced on May 5th, and the winners will be announced at BookExpo America on May 27th. The award comes with a $5,000 prize for the author and translator of the work, underwritten by Amazon.com’s giving programs.

But who will win? It’s Ferrante’s for the taking. But if I had to pick a dark horse in fiction, it’d be Can Xue’s The Last Lover, translated by Annelise Finegan Wasmoen for Yale University Press. As for poetry? It’s hard to say, but I’m rooting for Diana’s Tree by Alejandra Pizarnik, translated by Yvette Siegert for Ugly Duckling.

Here’s are your longlists for the 2015 Best Translated Book Award:

Fiction:

Baboon by Naja Marie Aidt, translated from the Danish by Denise Newman. (Denmark, Two Lines Press)

The Author and Me by Éric Chevillard, translated from the French by Jordan Stump. (France, Dalkey Archive Press)

Fantomas Versus the Multinational Vampires by Julio Cortázar, translated from the Spanish by David Kurnick. (Argentina, Semiotext(e))

Pushkin Hills by Sergei Dovlatov, translated from the Russian by Katherine Dovlatov. (Russia, Counterpoint Press)

1914 by Jean Echenoz, translated from the French by Linda Coverdale. (France, New Press)

Street of Thieves by Mathias Énard, translated from the French by Charlotte Mandell. (France, Open Letter Books)

Those Who Leave and Those Who Stay by Elena Ferrante, translated from the Italian by Ann Goldstein. (Italy, Europa Editions)

Things Look Different in the Light by Medardo Fraile, translated from the Spanish by Margaret Jull Costa. (Spain, Pushkin Press)

Monastery by Eduardo Halfon, translated from the Spanish by Lisa Dillman and Daniel Hahn. (Guatemala, Bellevue Literary Press)

Letters from a Seducer by Hilda Hilst, translated from the Portuguese by John Keene. (Brazil, Nightboat Books)

Harlequin’s Millions by Bohumil Hrabal, translated from the Czech by Stacey Knecht. (Czech Republic, Archipelago Books)

Rambling On: An Apprentice’s Guide to the Gift of the Gab by Bohumil Hrabal, translated from the Czech by David Short. (Czech Republic, Karolinum Press)

The Woman Who Borrowed Memories by Tove Jansson, translated from the Swedish by Thomas Teal and Silvester Mazzarella. (Finland, NYRB)

Works by Edouard Levé, translated from the French by Jan Steyn. (France, Dalkey Archive Press)

Faces in the Crowd by Valeria Luiselli, translated from the Spanish by Christina MacSweeney. (Mexico, Coffee House Press)

Adam Buenosayres by Leopoldo Marechal, translated from the Spanish by Norman Cheadle and Sheila Ethier. (Argentina, McGill-Queen’s University Press)

Last Words from Montmartre by Qiu Miaojin, translated from the Chinese by Ari Larissa Heinrich. (Taiwan, NYRB)

Winter Mythologies and Abbots by Pierre Michon, translated from the French by Ann Jefferson. (France, Yale University Press)

Our Lady of the Nile by Scholastique Mukasonga, translated from the French by Melanie Mauthner. (Rwanda, Archipelago Books)

Talking to Ourselves by Andrés Neuman, translated from the Spanish by Nick Caistor and Lorenza Garcia. (Argentina, FSG)

Granma Nineteen and the Soviet’s Secret by Ondjaki, translated from the Portuguese by Stephen Henighan. (Angola, Biblioasis)

La Grande by Juan José Saer, translated from the Spanish by Steve Dolph. (Argentina, Open Letter Books)

Paris by Marcos Giralt Torrente, translated from the Spanish by Margaret Jull Costa. (Spain, Hispabooks)

Snow and Shadow by Dorothy Tse. translated from the Chinese by Nicky Harman. (Hong Kong, East Slope Publishing)

The Last Lover by Can Xue, translated from the Chinese by Annelise Finegan Wasmoen. (China, Yale University Press)

Poetry:

Collected Poems by Rainer Brambach, translated from the German by Esther Kinsky. (Switzerland, Seagull Books)

Diorama by Rocío Cerón, translated from the Spanish by Anna Rosenwong. (Mexico, Phoeneme)

Nothing More to Lose by Najwan Darwish, translated from the Arabic by Kareem James Abu-Zeid. (Palestine, NYRB)

Lazy Suzie by Suzanne Doppelt, translated from the French by Cole Swenson. (France, Litmus Press)

Openwork by André du Bouchet, translated from the French by Paul Auster and Hoyt Rogers. (France, Yale University Press)

The Posthumous Life of RW by Jean Frémon, translated from the French by Cole Swensen. (France, Omnidawn)

I Am the Beggar of the World: Landays from Contemporary Afghanistan edited and translated from the Pashto by Eliza Griswold. (Afghanistan, FSG)

Sorrowtoothpaste Mirrorcream by Kim Hyesoon, translated from the Korean by Don Mee Choi. (South Korea, Action Books)

Where Are the Trees Going? by Venus Khoury-Ghata, translated from the French by Marilyn Hacker. (Lebanon, Curbstone)

Rain of the Future by Valerie Mejer, translated from the Spanish by A. S. Zelman-Doring, Forrest Gander, and C.D. Wright. (Mexico, Action Books)

Diana’s Tree by Alejandra Pizarnik, translated from the Spanish by Yvette Siegert. (Argentina, Ugly Duckling)

Compleat Catalogue of Comedic Novelties by Lev Rubinstein, translated from the Russian by Philip Metres and Tatiana Tulchinsky. (Russia, Ugly Duckling)

In Praise of Poetry by Olga Sedakova, translated from the Russian by Caroline Clark, Ksenia Golubovich, and Stephanie Sandler. (Russia, Open Letter Books)

Soy Realidad by Tomaž Šalamun, translated from the Slovenian by Michael Thomas Taren. (Slovenia, Dalkey Archive Press)

End of the City Map by Farhad Showghi, translated from the German by Rosmarie Waldrop. (Mexico, Germany, Burning Deck)

Guantánamo by Frank Smith, translated from the French by Vanessa Place. (France, Les Figues)

Salsa by Hsia Yü, translated from the Chinese by Steve Bradbury. (Taiwan, Zephyr Press)