ALTA Announces Its 2020 National Translation Awards Longlists

In News by Porter Anderson

With shortlists expected late this month, the American Literary Translators Association has work from 13 languages in contention.

A detail from the artwork for the 2020 ALTA digital conference, which runs September 30 to October 18

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

Judging Both the Quality of the Book and the Translation
The American Literary Translators Association (ALTA) today is announcing its longlists for the 2020 iteration of its highly regarded National Translation Awards. The lists include the work of writers working in 13 languages

The prize program is in its 22nd year of operation and this is the sixth year in which separate awards are offered for prose and poetry.

Publishing Perspectives readers familiar with our coverage of the program will remember that these awards are rightly touted as the United States 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.”

These are people who can read both an original text and the its English translation. So—as is not the case in some programs that handle translated material—they can tell just how faithful, or not, a translation may be. Translators do not easily fool other translators. Thus, there’s more than one criterion at work here: Both the quality of the finished English-language book is under scrutiny, and so is the actual quality of the translation when examined by ALTA’s jurors.

Winners in the two categories will receive US$2,500 each, and the announcement of their success is to be made on October 15, during Frankfurter Buchmesse (October 14 to 18), as it happens. Like much of Frankfurt’s trade show programming, the translators’ association’s 43rd conference this year is being developed as a digital event, in this case on the Crowdcast platform with its landing page here..

The conference its runs September 30 to October 18. Titled “In Between”–the meaning of which needs no translation for anyone aware of the coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic—the program features both Zoom and Crowdcast elements. You can learn more about it here (PDF).

Registration for the winners’ announcements is available now for the National Translation Awards in prose here, and in poetry here.

Jurors in prose this year are Amaia Gabantxo, Emmanuel D. Harris II, and William Maynard Hutchins.

This year’s judges for poetry are Ilya Kaminsky, Lisa Katz, and Farid Matuk.

National Translation Award in Prose 2020 Longlist
  • A Couple of Soles by Li Yu, translated from the Chinese by Jing Shen and Robert E. Hegel (Columbia University Press)
  • Among the Lost by Emiliano Monge, translated from the Spanish by Frank Wynne (Scribe Publications)
  • At Dusk by Hwang Sok-yong, translated from the Korean by Sora Kim-Russell (Scribe Publications)
  • Beyond Babylon by Igiaba Scego, translated from the Italian by Aaron Robertson (Two Lines Press)
  • God’s Wife by Amanda Michalopoulou, translated from the Greek (modern) by Patricia Felisa Barbeito (Dalkey Archive Press)
  • Ithaca Forever: Penelope Speaks by Luigi Malerba, translated from the Italian by Douglas Grant Heise (University of California Press)
  • Optic Nerve by María Gainza, translated from the Spanish by Thomas Bunstead (Catapult)
  • The Cheffe by Marie Ndiaye, translated from the French by Jordan Stump (Alfred A. Knopf)
  • The Old Woman and the River by Ismail Fahd Ismail, translated from the Arabic by Sophia Vasalou (Interlink Books)
  • The Quarter by Naguib Mahfouz, translated from the Arabic by Roger Allen (Saqi Books)
  • Welcome to America by Linda Boström Knausgård, translated from the Swedish by Martin Aitken (World Editions)
  • Zuleikha by Guzel Yakhina, translated from the Russian by Lisa C. Hayden (Oneworld)
National Translation Award in Poetry 2020 Longlist
  • Forty-One Objects by Carsten René Nielsen, translated from the Danish by David Keplinger (The Bitter Oleander Press)
  • Hysteria by Kim Yideum, translated from the Korean by Jake Levine, Soeun Seo, Hedgie Choi (Action Books)
  • Room in Rome by Jorge Eduardo Eielson, translated from the Spanish by David Shook (Cardboard House Press)
  • Tell Me, Kenyalang by Kulleh Grasi, translated from the Malay by Pauline Fan (Circumference Books)
  • The Battle Between the Frogs and the Mice: A Tiny Homeric Epic by an unknown author, translated from the Greek by A.E. Stallings (Paul Dry Books)
  • The Chilean Flag by Elvira Hernández, translated from the Spanish by Alec Schumacher (Kenning Editions)
  • The Hammer by Adelaide Ivánova, translated from the Portuguese by Chris Daniels (Commune Editions)
  • The Last Innocence/The Lost Adventures by Alejandra Pizarnik, translated from the Spanish by Cecilia Rossi (Ugly Duckling Presse)
  • The Next Loves by Stéphane Bouquet, translated from the French by Lindsay Turner (Nightboat Books)
  • The Winter Garden Photograph by Reina María Rodríguez, translated from the Spanish by Kristin Dykstra with Nancy Gates Madsen (Ugly Duckling Presse)

Shortlists are expected at the end of this month, and the association plans to highlight the longlisted books with jurors’ commentary between now and then here.

More from Publishing Perspectives on translation is here, and more from us on publishing and book awards is here. More from us on the coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on international book publishing is here and at the CORONAVIRUS tab at the top of each page of our site.

About the Author

Porter Anderson

Facebook Twitter

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