Over at the Three Percent blog, Chad Post has announced the dates and judges for the 2017 Best Translated Book Award (here).

Lo and behold I’m on that list of judges! That’s right, I’ve been invited to judge my favorite book prize, and I’m absolutely thrilled and mortified. Even if the percentage of translated books published each year is low, and the percentage of new translations even lower, there are still quite a few books for one person to read! Factor in that not all of them are going to be good, and, well, it’s daunting. But it’s also invigorating. It’s a prize and process I believe in and respect, and I’m excited to have a turn on this side of the process.

There are many exciting eligible books (the list below may include some ineligible books, but I tried and think most are up for the prize)!

Some of my favorites are treating us again this year: César Aira’s Ema the Captive; Laszlo Krasznahorkai’s The Last Wolf and Herman; Juan Jose Saer’s The Clouds; Enrique Vila-Matas’s collection Vampire in Love; and Javier Marías’s Thus Bad Begins.

Some eligible books are from authors I’ve looked at only a bit but that I’ve been meaning to get to know better: Yoko Tawada’s The Memoirs of a Polar Bear; Magda Szabo’s Iza’s Ballad; Peter Handke’s The Moravian Night; Bae Suah’s A Greater Music; Dorthe Nors’s So Much for That Winter; and Alessandro Baricco’s The Young Bride.

And there are many from authors that are completely new to me but that are really proving to be excellent, like Roger Lewinter’s The Attraction of Things and Story of Love in Solitude, Rafael Chirbes’s On the Edge; and Emmanuell Pagano’s Trysting.

We’ll have to decide whether Han Kang’s The Vegetarian should win both the Man Booker International Prize and the Best Translated Book Award, an honor that has, so far, gone to no book. Yuri Hererra could be the second author to win the BTBA two years in a row with The Transmigration of Bodies.

There are some Nobel-winning heavyweights to contend with: Günter Grass’s Of All That Ends; Herta Müller’s The Fox Was Ever the Hunter; and Patrick Modiano’s several. There may be others here, but this is all I know about.

And, of course, the big — in more ways than one — title to contend with this year is Arno Schmidt’s Bottom’s Dream: big, big, big. My PDF is 1,496 pages! I’ve started this and, well, we’ll get to that at a later date.

There are many others, and I’d love to hear what you’ve loved or are looking forward to. The Goodreads page is still up and running and quite active with the Booker Prize going on now. Go there to join the conversation.

Here are my fellow judges:

  • Monica Carter
  • Rachel S. Cordasco
  • Jennifer Croft
  • Lori Feathers
  • Jeremy Garber
  • Mark Haber
  • George Henson
  • Steph Opitz


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