On Tuesday, the longlist for this year’s Best Translated Book Award will be announced. I can’t wait — it’s my favorite book prize going. Stoking my anticipation, Chad Post has been leaving hints as to what books are on the 25-book list. Here they are (I’ll update this should more show up before Tuesday).

  • There are nine languages represented in the list of twenty-five longlisted fiction titles. The top three languages made up seventeen of the total books.
  • There are sixteen different places of origin with a book on the list. The top three locations make up eleven of the total titles.
  • Of the twenty-five titles on the fiction longlist, nine of them are by women. By contrast, of the twenty-seven translators on the list (one of whom made it with two different books), fifteen are women.
  • There are twenty different presses with a book on the fiction longlist, and no single press had more than two books make it.
  • Six of the books on the fiction longlist contain more than one story/novella.
  • Three of the books are longer than 400 pages. (All of these are novels.)
  • There is only one female writer from Mexico on the list.
  • The UK equivalent of the BTBA is the Independent Foreign Fiction Prize, which recently announced its longlist. There is only one title that made both the IFFP and BTBA fiction longlists.
  • There are two books on the PEN Translation Prize longlist that also made the BTBA.
  • Five of the books on the BTBA fiction longlist have one-word titles.
  • I’ve read—and rated on GoodReads—seven of the books that made the list. Six of them I gave 5-stars, one got 4 stars. (Although probably deserved 5. I have no idea what I was thinking at the time.)
  • There is one author with two books on the list, and one previous BTBA winning author also made it.
  • Five different presses have had a fiction book win the award. Only two of them have a book on this year’s fiction longlist.

Some fun hints, and yet guessing the 25 titles is still a virtually impossible task as the judges attempt to consider every single book translated into the English for the first time in 2014.

Chad refers to the IFFP longlist, which you can see here, the PEN Translation Longlist, which you can see here, and his Goodreads page, which you can see here.

Anyway, some fun things to tease out here:

  • One female writer from Mexico on the list? That means only one of the following three authors made it: Guadalupe Nettel for Natural Histories, Valeria Luiselli for Faces in the Crowd, or Carmen Boullosa for Texas: The Great Theft. I’ve not heard much about Natural Histories, but the other two have been widely acclaimed, and Texas would match up with one of the titles on the PEN Translation Prize longlist.
  • With only one book from the IFFP longlist making the cut for the BTBA, that means only one of the following four (or maybe none of the following four) will be on Tuesday’s list: Jenny Erpenbeck’s The End of Days, Karl Ove Knausgaard’s My Struggle: Book Three, Haruki Murakami’s Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage, and Can Xue’s The Last Lover. My guess is that we’re going to see The End of Days on the list.
  • It’s harder for me to pick the two from the PEN Translation Prize longlist. Only two from a list that includes Andrei Bitov’s The Symmetry Teacher, Naja Marie Aidt’s Baboon, Carmen Boullosa’s Texas: The Great Theft, and Tove Jansson’s The Woman Who Borrowed Memories. Each of those was on my guess list, but only two can be, and maybe fewer are, on Tuesday’s list.
  • Authors with more than one book in the running? Here are a few, though not all (I’ve left off all of the ones who specialize in crime/mysteries):
    • David Albahari for Globetrotter and Learning Cyrillic
    • I’ve left off all crime/mystery except Pascal Garnier: Front Seat Passenger, How’s the Pain?, Moon in a Dead Eye, and The Panda Theory
    • Hilda Hilst for Letters from a Seducer and With My Dog Eyes
    • Bohumil Hrabal for Harlequin’s Millions and Rambling On: An Apprentice’s Guide to the Gift of the Gab
    • Sonallah Ibrahim for Beirut, Beirut and Stealth
    • Haruki Murakami for Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage and Strange Library
    • My guess is that we’ll see either Hilst or Hrabal on the list twice, and I’d go with Hrabal, but see my bullet below on the publishers who’ve previously won the BTBA . . .
  • One previous BTBA winner is on the list. This one is easy, if my sources are correct, because only one of the prior winners has a book eligible this year: Tove Jansson. So . . . The Woman Who Borrowed Memories must be on the list (again, provided I’m not missing something).
  • The five winning presses of the past: New Directions (2), Archipelago (2), NYRB Classics (1), Melville House (1), Soft Skull Press (1). If Tove Jansson’s The Woman Who Borrowed Memories is on the list (see prior bullet point), then that means either New Directions or Archipelago got shut out — or both did because Melville House made it (I don’t think Soft Skull Press is in the running this year). Which throws everything off for me since New Directions published Erpenbeck’s The End of Days, Archipelago published Hrabal’s Harlequin’s Millions, and Melville House published Hilst’s With My Dog Eyes. I’m obviously wrong about something. Perhaps another prior winner has a book eligible this year, and I’m wrong that Jansson made it; or a prior poetry winner has a book of fiction that made it, and Chad is diabolically mixing these clues. Or Erpenbeck didn’t make it, so I’m back to square one with the IFFP. I’ve never put together a list that fully conforms to all rules . . .

I’m still formulating my final guesses, but I’ll post it here when I get there. Please let me know if you have any thoughts!! I’ll keep updating this post as I get more clues or more thoughts.

A few clues coming from the BTBA twitter feed (@BTBA_).

I haven’t done any crunching to see what those might mean.

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By |2015-04-07T14:42:19+00:00April 3rd, 2015|Categories: Uncategorized|9 Comments


  1. Don Tinieblas April 3, 2015 at 8:11 pm

    My cursory jotting yields the following. Later, I will have to edit with the clues in mind.

    The Symmetry Teacher (Farrar, Straus and Giroux)
    By Andrei Bitov, translated from the Russian by Polly Gannon

    Fantomas Versus the Multinational Vampires: An Attainable Utopia (Semiotext(e))
    By Julio Cortázar, translated from the Spanish by David Kurnick

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

    Rock, Paper, Scissors
    by Naja Marie Aidt, K.E. Semmel (Translation)

    Patrick Modiano’s Suspended Sentences (trans. by Mark Polizzotti

    Faces in the Crowd by Valeria Luiselli, Christina MacSweeney (Translation)

    The Woman Who Borrowed Memories: Selected Stories
    by Tove Jansson, Thomas Teal (Translation), Silvester Mazzarella (Translation)


    The Walls of Delhi
    by Uday Prakash, Jason Grunebaum (Translation)

    Street of Thieves
    by Mathias Énard, Charlotte Mandell (Translation)

    Limonov: The Outrageous Adventures of the Radical Soviet Poet Who Became a Bum in New York, a Sensation in France, and a Political Antihero in Russia
    by Emmanuel Carrère, John Lambert (Translation)

    Leopoldo Marechal’s Adam Buenosayres (Norman Cheadle) [McGill-Queens]

    Writers by Antoine Volodine (Author), Katina Rogers (Translator)

    Talking to Ourselves: A Novel
    by Andrés Neuman, Nick Caistor (Translation), Lorenza García (Translation)

    Quesadeillas, by Juan Pablo Villalobos; tr. from the Spanish by Rosalind Harvey (FSG)

    The Man Who Loved Dogs, Leonardo Padura

    The Light and the Dark by Mikhail Shishkin

    Stealth by Sonallah Ibrahim

    With My Dog Eyes by Hilda Hilst

    Thirst by Mahmoud Dowlatabadi

    The End of Days by Jenny Erpenbeck

    La Grande by Juan Jose Saer

    Works by Edouard Levé

    The Last Lover by Can Xue

    1914 by Jean Echenoz

    Mr. Gwyn by Alessandro Baricco

    Wilma Stockenstrom – The Expedition to the Baobab Tree

    Bohumil Hrabal – Harlequin’s Millions

    Goncalo M. Tavares – A Man: Klaus Klump

    Arno Camenisch – The Alp

    Hassan Blasim – The Corpse Exhibition

    Albert Sanchez Pinol – Victus

    Drago Jancar – The Tree With No Name

    Peter Handke – Storm Still

  2. Tony April 4, 2015 at 12:39 am

    Some good sleuthing here – if you do some more, I might just steal all your ideas and email Chad ;)

  3. Trevor Berrett April 4, 2015 at 9:47 am

    It won’t do you any good, Tony! I have put together my list of 25, and, as usual, I just cannot get it to conform to all the rules!

    In the end, though, I had to axe New Directions! Other than Tove Jansson’s The Woman Who Borrowed Memories, I cannot come up with another eligible book by a prior winner, which means only one of New Directions, Melville House, or Archipelago could stay in. I went with Archipelago . . . To fit in the other rules, I didn’t include any of the IFFP candidates I’d initially thought might be in!

    The part I could not get into the rules is the language and the places of origin. I’m close to meeting all requirements, but I had to give up :-) .

  4. Trevor Berrett April 5, 2015 at 8:26 pm

    Despite hours and hours of research and thought, I only got 9/25 correct when I sent my list. I had to give up trying to match all clues, so I knew I wouldn’t be perfect, but in year’s past I’ve done better! I hope it’s because there are plenty of surprises on the list, and not because I simply axed the wrong books (I have 25 alternates :-) ). Here’s my list. Sixteen are not going to be on the BTBA longlist.

    -Aidt’s Baboon
    -Albahari’s Globetrotter
    -Barba’s Rain over Madrid
    -Baricco’s Mr. Gwyn
    -Bitov’s The Symmetry Teacher
    -Deck’s Viviane
    -Enard’s Street of Thieves
    -Ferrante’s Those Who Stay and Those Who Leave
    -Hrabal’s Harlequin’s Millions
    -Hrabal’s Rambling On
    -Jansson’s The Woman Who Borrowed Memories
    -Laurel’s By Night the Mountain Burns
    -Luiselli’s Faces in the Crowd
    -Maier’s Room
    -Manchette’s The Mad and the Bad
    -Neuman’s Talking to Ourselves
    -Nors’ Karate Chop
    -Parei’s The Cold Centre
    -Rey Rosa’s Severina
    -Saer’s La Grande
    -Shishkin’s The Light and the Dark
    -Stockenström’s The Expedition to the Baobab Tree
    -Tavares’s A Man: Klaus Klump
    -Volodine’s Writers
    -Zarraluki’s History of Silence

  5. Trevor Berrett April 5, 2015 at 8:33 pm

    Don — sorry! You’re list was in my spam folder, so I’ve only just got it approved!

  6. Eric April 6, 2015 at 8:48 am

    14 out of 25 here. I did some editing on my original list with the clues in mind and gave up at some point as well. Good luck using any of this list to figure out anything of value. It looks like our lists shared 12 titles. And where is lascosas? Her reviews and lists are missed.
    Bitov: The Symmetry Teacher
    Cortazar: Fantomas Versus the Multinational Vampires
    Di Benedetto: Zama
    Dovlatov: Pushkin Hills
    Echenoz: 1914
    Ferrante: Those Who Leave and Those Who Stay
    Hrabal: Harlequin’s Millions
    Hrabal: Rambling On
    Jannson: The Woman Who Borrowed Memories
    Luiselli: Faces in the Crowd
    Modiano: Suspended Sentences
    Sanchez Pinol: Victus
    Saer: La Grande
    Shishkin: Light and the Dark
    Giralt Torrente: Paris
    Winterbach: The Elusive Moth
    Can Xue: The Last Lover
    Marechal: Adam Buenosayres
    Stockenstrom: Expedition to the Baobab Tree
    Jancar: Tree with No Name
    Volodine: Writers
    Neuman: Talking to Ourselves
    Nors: Karate Chop
    Blasim: Corpse Exhibition
    Hilst: Letters From a Seducer

  7. Trevor Berrett April 6, 2015 at 2:20 pm

    Excellent work, Eric! I think we can oust Di Benedetto’s Zama since it didn’t arrive as planned and is now scheduled for later this year. So, 1/2 of the remaining titles are on the list :-) .

    And where is lascosas? Her reviews and lists are missed.

    I’m not sure where she was, but she did just post over at the forum (see here), so she’s well!

  8. lascosas April 6, 2015 at 10:55 pm

    Hi guys,
    Sorry I’ve been scarse lately. I OD’d on current translations a couple of months ago and have been reading other stuff. I posted over on The Mookse and the Gripes Forum my 28 longlist, based solely on books I’d read. He was kind enough to point me over here. Removing 3 of them, below are my 25. Again, this is not what I think the judges will do, just my own reading. I can’t abide Ferrante, but I assume she’ll be on their list, and I think Carmen Boullosa belongs on the list, but I didn’t include her because I read her stuff in Spanish. Here’s my list…

    Kader Abdolah – The King
    Andrei Bitov – The Symmetry Teacher
    Hassan Blasim – The Corpse Exhibition
    Jaume Cabre – Confessions
    Arno Camenisch – The Alp
    Mathias Enard – Thieves of Street
    Peter Handke – Storm Still
    Hilda Hilst – Letters from a Seducer
    Hilda Hilst – With My Dog-Eyes
    Bohumil Hrabal – Harlequin’s Millions
    Bohumil Hrabal – Rambling on
    Sonallah Ibrahim – Stealth
    Drago Jancar – The Tree With No Name
    Leopoldo Marechal – Adam Buenosayres
    Guadalupe Nettel – Natural Histories
    Albert Sanchez Pinol – Victus
    Uday Prakash – Walls of Delhi
    Atiq Rahimi – A Curse on Dostoevsky
    Juan Jose Saer – La Grande
    Mikhail Shishkin – The Light and the Dark
    Wilma Stockenstrom – The Expedition to the Baobab Tree
    Goncalo M. Tavares – A Man: Klaus Klump
    Marcos Giralt Torrente – Paris
    Antoine Volodine – Writers
    Ingrid Winterbach – The Elusive Moth

  9. Eric April 7, 2015 at 8:21 am

    Nice to see your list and more reviews lascosas. I love what you do over at the forum and appreciate you taking the time to do it. And I find your list of books that you personally have read that you would select much more interesting than my conjecture (I’ve only read 5 of the books on my own list). And Trevor, I knew Zama’s publishing date had been bumped back, but I still saw it on the translation database list and was getting desperate, so I went for it. So maybe I’ll be 14 for 24 for this year and 1 for 1 for next!

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