American Literary Translators Name 2019 Longlists in Poetry and Prose

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The American Literary Translators Association announces 12 prose and 12 poetry titles in its annual awards for translation into English.
The language of petroglyphs in the Book Cliffs region of Utah, the Fremont Northern San Rafael idiom. Image - iSTockphoto: Legacy Images Photography

‘The Great Hunt’ in the language of petroglyphs near the Book Cliffs region of Utah, the Fremont indigenous San Rafael idiom. Image – iStockphoto: Legacy Images Photography

By Porter Anderson, Editor-in-Chief | @Porter_Anderson

A Dozen Titles in Each of Two Categories
A program in which translators honor translation, the ALTA Awards come with a sharp distinction: It is, as organizers phrase it, the US market’s “only national award for translated fiction, poetry, and literary nonfiction that includes a rigorous examination of both the source text and its relation to the finished English work.”

Put another way, the American Literary Translators Association is made up of people who can read both something translated into English and also the source text. They’re the ones who can tell just how faithful, or not, a translation may be. So there’s more than one criterion at work here: Both the quality of the finished English language book, and the quality of the translation are examined by ALTA’s jurors.

Featuring authors writing in 13 languages, this year’s longlists, released today (September 3), also deepen a commitment on the part of the program to diversity in English, according to the organization’s media messaging.

This year’s prose jurors are:

  • Bonnie Huie
  • Charlotte Mandell
  • Jeffrey Zuckerman

And the jurors in poetry are:

  • Anna Deeny Morales
  • Cole Heinowitz,
  • Sholeh Wolpe

Shortlists are expected at the end of this month, and the winners will be named at the association’s annual conference, which this year is in Rochester, New York, from November 7 to 10. Between now and then, you can read the jurors’ commentary on each longlisted title. Those remarks will be appearing at the ALTA blog site here.

The winning translator in each of the two categories will receive US$2,500, and in each of the two lists that follow, books are alphabetized by title.

2019 ALTA Award Longlist in Prose

Anniversaries: From a Year in the Life of Gesine Cresspahl
by Uwe Johnson
translated from the German by Damion Searls
(New York Review Books)

Berlin Alexanderplatz
by Alfred Döblin
translated from the German by Michael Hofmann
(New York Review Books)

Brother in Ice
by Alicia Kopf
translated from the Catalan by Mara Faye Lethem
(And Other Stories)

Collected Stories
by Bruno Schulz
translated from the Polish by Madeline G. Levine
(Northwestern University Press)

Comemadre
by Roque Larraquy
translated from the Spanish by Heather Cleary
(Coffee House Press)

The Houseguest 
by Amparo Davila
translated from the Spanish by Audrey Harris and Matthew Gleeson
(New Directions)

In Black and White
by Jun’ichiro Tanizaki
translated from the Japanese by Phyllis I. Lyons
(Columbia University Press)

Lost Time
by Józef Czapski
translated from the French by Eric Karpeles
(New York Review Books)

The Naked Woman
by Armonía Somers
translated from the Spanish by Kit Maude
(The Feminist Press)

Öraefi: The Wasteland
by Ófeigur Sigurdsson
translated from the Icelandic by Lytton Smith
(Deep Vellum Publishing)

The Taiga Syndrome
by Cristina Rivera Garza
translated from the Spanish by Suzanne Jill Levine and Aviva Kana
(Dorothy, a publishing project & And Other Stories, forthcoming)

What’s Left of the Night
by Ersi Sotiropoulos
translated from the Greek by Karen Emmerich
(New Vessel Press)

2019 ALTA Award Longlist in Poetry

Architecture of Dispersed Life: Selected Poems
by Pablo de Rokha
translated from the Spanish by Urayoán Noel
(Shearsman Books)

The Color of Rivers
by Juana Castro
translated from the Spanish by Ana Valverde Osan
(Diálogos)

The Complete Cold Mountain: Poems of the Legendary Hermit Hanshan
by Hanshan
translated from the Chinese by Kazuaki Tanahashi and Peter Levitt
(Shambhala Publications)

Countersong to Walt Whitman
by Pedro Mir
translated from the Spanish by Jonathan Cohen and Donald D. Walsh
(Peepal Tree Press)

Decals
by Oliverio Girondo
translated from the Spanish by Rachel Galvin and Harris Feinsod
(Open Letter Books)

The Future Has an Appointment with the Dawn
by Tanella Boni
translated from the French by Todd Fredeson
(University of Nebraska Press)

Negative Space
by Luljeta Lleshanaku
translated from the Albanian by Ani Gjika
(New Directions)

Pan Tadeusz: The Last Foray in Lithuania
by Adam Mickiewicz
translated from the Polish by Bill Johnston
(Archipelago Books)

The Popul Vuh
by Anonymous
translated from the K’iche’ by Michael Bazzett
(Milkweed Editions)

Robert the Devil
by Anonymous
translated from the French by Samuel N. Rosenberg
(Penn State University Press)

Through Naked Branches: Selected Poems of Tarjei Vesaas
by Tarjei Vesaas
translated from the Norwegian by Roger Greenwald
(Black Widow Press)

War Songs
by Antarah ibn Shaddad
translated from the Arabic by James E. Montgomery with Richard Sieburth
(Library of Arabic Literature/NYU Press)

This is the 21st year of operation for the National Translation Awards, the fifth year in which separate awards have been given for prose and poetry.


 More from Publishing Perspectives on translation is here, and more from us on publishing and book awards is here.

About the Author

Porter Anderson

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Porter Anderson has been named International Trade Press Journalist of the Year in London Book Fair's 2019 International Excellence Awards. He is Editor-in-Chief of Publishing Perspectives. He co-founded The Hot Sheet, a newsletter for trade and indie authors, which now is owned and operated by Jane Friedman. He formerly was Associate Editor for The FutureBook at London's The Bookseller. Anderson also has worked as a senior producer, editor, and anchor with CNN.com, CNN International, and CNN USA, and as an arts critic (National Critics Institute) with The Village Voice and Dallas Times Herald.

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