US National Book Awards 2021 Longlist: Translated Literature

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Translated works longlisted for the 2021 National Book Award have been recognized in stages of the International Booker, the Saif Ghobash Banipal, the Valle Inclán, and the Prix Mondial Cino del Duca.

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

See also: US National Book Award 2021 Longlist: Young People’s Literature

Translations to English From Seven Languages
The second category listing to be released in the United States’ 2021 National Book Awards longlists is for Translated Literature. The newest of the five categories, this one was implemented in 2018, and is not unlike the Booker International Prize, which similarly recognizes work translated into English.

For Publishing Perspectives‘ internationalist readership of world publishing executives and rights specialists, this category is of keen interest. Indeed, some of these translations have been followed for some time by our readers.

For example, here is Benjamin Labatut’s When We Cease To Understand the World in its translation by Adrian Nathan West. It was shortlisted for the International Booker in June in its UK edition from Pushkin Press. Another translation our readers know is Sasha Dugdale’s translation of Maria Stepanova’s In Memory of Memory from, in England, the translation house Fitzcarraldo Editions. It, too, was shortlisted for the International Booker, which was won, of course, by David Diop and translator Anna Maschovakis.

Chat Post‘s Open Letter is represented here with the longlisting of Elisa Shua Dusapin’s Winter in Sokcho in its translation from French by Aneesa Abbas Higgins. More translation publishers with work longlisted this year include World Editions, New York Review Books, Graywolf Press, Kaya Press, Two Lines Press, and New Directions.

In this iteration of the Translated Literature category of the National Book Awards, the 10 longlisted entries give us two works in French, one in Chinese, one in Korean, one in Arabic, one in German, one in Russian, and three in Spanish.

Publishers submitted a total of 164 books for the 2021 National Book Award for Translated Literature. Finalists—the shortlisted entries—are to be named October 5. The 2021 awards ceremony now is set for November 17 and is anticipated to be, for the most part, an in-person event for fully vaccinated attendees in New York City at the customary home of the gala, Cipriani Wall Street.

Jurors in the Translated Literature category this year are Stephen Snyder (chair), Jessie Chaffee, Sergio de la Pava, Madhu H. Kaza, and Achy Obejas.

Translated Literature 2021 Longlist
Author Title Original Language Translator Publisher / Imprint
Maryse Condé Waiting for the Waters To Rise French Richard Philcox World Editions
Elisa Shua Dusapin Winter in Sokcho French Aneesa Abbas Higgins Open Letter
Ge Fei Peach Blossom Paradise Chinese Canaan Morse New York Review Books
Nona Fernández The Twilight Zone Spanish Natasha Wimmer Graywolf Press
Bo-Young Kim On the Origin of the Species and Other Stories Korean Joungmin Lee Comfort and Sora Kim-Russell Kaya Press
Benjamin Labatut When We Cease To Understand the World Spanish Adrian Nathan West New York Review Books
Elvira Navarro Rabbit Island: Stories Spanish Christina MacSweeney Two Lines Press
Judith Schalansky An Inventory of Losses German Jackie Smith New Directions
Maria Stepanova In Memory of Memory Russian Sasha Dugdale New Directions
Samar Yazbek Planet of Clay Arabic Leri Price World Editions

The jury’s decisions are made independently of the National Book Foundation staff and board of directors and deliberations are strictly confidential.


More from Publishing Perspectives on the National Book Awards is here, and on awards programs in general is here. More from us on translation and translators is here.

More on the coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on international book publishing is here

About the Author

Porter Anderson

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Porter Anderson is a non-resident fellow of Trends Research & Advisory, and he 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.com, CNN International, and CNN USA. As as an arts critic (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.

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