American Literary Translators Name 2019 Shortlists in Poetry and Prose

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The American Literary Translators Association names its 2019 shortlists of five prose and five poetry titles in its annual awards for translation into English.

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

Both Translations and Source Texts Are Read
The leading US program in which translators honor translation, the ALTA Awards, are, 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 shortlists are intended to 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

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 appear 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 Shortlist 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)
  • Collected Stories by Bruno Schulz, translated from the Polish by Madeline G. Levine (Northwestern University Press)
  • In Black and White by Jun’ichiro Tanizaki, translated from the Japanese by Phyllis I. Lyons (Columbia University Press)
  • The Naked Woman by Armonía Somers, translated from the Spanish by Kit Maude (The Feminist Press)
  • What’s Left of the Night by Ersi Sotiropoulos, translated from the Greek by Karen Emmerich (New Vessel Press)
2019 ALTA Award Shortlist in Poetry
  • Architecture of Dispersed Life: Selected Poems by Pablo de Rokha, translated from the Spanish by Urayoán Noel (Shearsman Books)
  • 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)
  • Pan Tadeusz: The Last Foray in Lithuania by Adam Mickiewicz, translated from the Polish by Bill Johnston (Archipelago Books)
  • Robert the Devil by Anonymous, translated from the French by Samuel N. Rosenberg (Penn State University 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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