Best Translated Book Award Fiction Finalists

I’m shocked! This is quite a leap from the list I expected! The winner will be selected from this list on May 3.

  • The Planets, by Sergio Chejfec; Argentina; tr. from the Spanish by Heather Cleary (Open Letter Books)
  • Prehistoric Times, by Eric Chevillard; France; tr. from the French by Alyson Waters (Archipelago Books)
  • The Colonel, by Mahmoud Dowlatabadi; Iran; tr. from the Persian by Tom Patterdale (Melville House)
  • Satantango, by László Krasznahorkai; Hungary; tr. from the Hugarian by George Szirtes (New Directions)
  • Autoportrait, by Edouard Levé; France; tr. from the French by Lorin Stein (Dalkey Archive Press)
  • A Breath of Life, by Clarice Lispector; Brazil; tr. from the Portuguese by Johnny Lorenz (New Directions)
  • The Hunger Angel, by Herta Müller; Romania; tr. from the German by Philip Boehm (Metropolitan Books)
  • Maidenhair, by Mikhail Shishkin; Russia; tr. from the Russian by Marian Schwartz (Open Letter Books)
  • Transit, by Abdourahman A. Waberi; Djibouti; tr. from the French by David Ball and Nicole Ball (Indiana University Press)
  • My Father’s Book, by Urs Widmer; Switzerland; tr. from the German by Donal McLaughlin (Seagull Books)

No Dublinesque? No My Struggle? No Traveler of the Century? No Map and the Territory? Those were, I thought, certainties. But maybe that’s why they’re not there. They’re the books we’ve seen promoted all over the place. Still, I consider Dublinesque and My Struggle to be two of the most unique, strongest pieces of literature in some time. Not to cast a shadow on the finalists, several of which I have not read.

4 thoughts on “Best Translated Book Award Fiction Finalists”

  1. Tony says:

    Not quite as big a fan of the Knausgaard (as my review shows), but I’m also very surprised by the omission of ‘Dublinesque’ and ‘Traveller…’. Here’s hoping the IFFP panel make up for this oversight ;)

  2. winstonsdad says:

    No surprise here given the judges ,this is bar for the course with the BTBA I agree Dublinesque is stunning ,death in family well it is a marmite book and I feel from our shadow experiences women maybe don’t connect with and others find Grim ! well it is Norwegian but that beside the point ,I may try a few of this list I ve read two own another two and reading one by a writer on the list at the moment ,all the best stu

  3. fulcherkim says:

    It does seem that the BTBA judges prefer to promote the obscure, rather than simply pick the obvious choices. Which is fair enough – the idea really is to highlight translated literature that otherwise wouldn’t be read, and it avoids the opposite issue we had in UK where eg Hilary Mantel pretty much won every award. However, I must admit that, as a result, I find the IFFP shortlists a much a better guide to books to buy than the BTBA. I think omitting Traveller and My Struggle was a mistake, but while a big Vila-Matas fan I actually found Dublinesque to be weaker than some of his others eg Bartleby. I was disappointed Map & Territory didn’t make it as well albeit Houllebecq is even more marmite than Knausgaard: incidentally I was also surprised it’s eligible as I read it back in 2011 – I guess US publication must have been later than here? The Lispector book also seems more of a lifetime achievement award as only book being eligible as not a retranslation – not her strongest.

  4. Tony says:

    Well, if ‘Dublinesque’ is weaker than his others, I really need to read those ;)

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