ALTA’s US National Translation Award Winners

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Tejaswini Niranjana, Giuseppe Ungaretti, Curzio Malaparte, and Archana Venkatesan are this year’s winning translators in ALTA’s National Translation Awards.

Image – Getty iStockphoto: Semih Akgul

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

Prose, Poetery, and Two Specialty Awards
As our regular readers know, events and announcements that coincide with Frankfurter Buchmesse tend to be delayed in coverage, and one such event this month is the American Literary Translators Association‘s (ALTA) National Translation Awards.

Winning translators in prose and poetry each get Us$2,500, and announcements are made at the association’s annual conference in a digital awards presentation. This year the winners were named on  October 16.

This is the National Translation Awards’ 23rd year, and 2021 us the seventh year in which the program has awarded separate prizes in poetry and prose.

Winner: National Translation Prize in Prose

No Presents Please: Mumbai Stories by Jayant Kaikini, translated from Kannada by Tejaswini Niranjana (Catapult).

This year’s jurors for prose are Jennifer Croft, Anton Hur, and Annie Janusch.

Tejaswini Niranjana is a cultural theorist and translator. She is author of Siting Translation: History, Post- Structuralism and the Colonial Context, and several other academic books.

She has curated the Saath-Saath Project, a set of collaborations between Indian and Chinese musicians, and produced three documentary films relating to music.

For her translations from Kannada into English, she has been awarded the Central Sahitya Akademi Award, the State Sahitya Akademi Award, and the JCB Prize for South Asian Literature.

Other shortlisted works in this award:

Title Author Translator Publisher
Difficult Light Tomás González Translated from Spanish by Andrea Rosenberg Archipelago Books
Humus Fabienne Kanor Translated from French by Lynn E. Palermo University of Virginia Press
Impostures: Fifty Rogue’s Tales Translated Fifty Ways Maqamat Al-Ḥarīrī Translated from Arabic by Michael Cooperson NYU Press/Library of Arabic Literature
Shameless Taslima Nasreen Translated from Bengali by Arunava Sinha HarperCollins India
Stories of the Sahara Sanmao Translated from Chinese by Mike Fu Bloomsbury Publishing
Winner: National Translation Prize in Poetry

Allegria by Giuseppe Ungaretti, translated from Italian by Geoffrey Brock (Archipelago Books).

This year’s judges for poetry are Sinan Antoon, Layla Benitez-James, and Sibelan Forrester.

Geoffrey Brock is the author of three books of poems, the editor of The FSG Book of Twentieth-Century Italian Poetry, and the translator of numerous books of prose, poetry, and comics, most recently Last Dream by Giovanni Pascoli (World Poetry Books, 2019) and Allegria by Giuseppe Ungaretti (Archipelago, 2020).

Brock’s awards include fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Guggenheim Foundation, the Academy of American Poets, and the Cullman Center for Scholars and Writers.

He teaches in the MFA Program in Creative Writing and Translation at the University of Arkansas, where he founded The Arkansas International.

Other shortlisted works in this award:

Title Author Translator Publisher
Beowulf Unknown Translated from Old English by Maria Dahvana Headley Farrar, Straus & Giroux / MCD Books
Dead Letter Office: Selected Poems Marko Pogačar Translated from Croatian by Andrea Jurjević The Word Works
The Olive Trees’ Jazz and Other Poems Samira Negrouche Translated from French by Marilyn Hacker Pleiades Press
Poetic Justice: An Anthology of Contemporary Moroccan Poetry Various authors Translated from Arabic, French, and Tamazight by Deborah Kapchan with Driss Marjane Center for Middle Eastern Studies, University of Texas Austin
Unexpected Vanilla Lee Hyemi Translated from Korean by So J. Lee Tilted Axis Press
The Italian Prose in Translation Award

One of two specialty awards in the ALTA program, this one carries a $5,000 purse and “recognizes the importance of contemporary Italian prose (fiction and literary nonfiction) and promotes the translation of Italian works into English.”

The winner named is Diary of a Foreigner in Paris by Curzio Malaparte, translated from Italian and French by Stephen Twilley. (NYRB)

This year’s jurors on this award are Stiliana Milkova, Minna Zallman Proctor, and Will Schutt.

Stephen Twilley is a freelance copyeditor and literary translator. From 2013 to 2021 he was managing editor of the online review Public Books, where he also served a term as section editor for literature in translation.

His own translations from the Italian include Francesco Pacifico’s The Story of My Purity, Marina Mander’s The First True Lie, Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa’s The Professor and the Siren, and Curzio Malaparte’s Diary of a Foreigner in Paris.

Among his current translation projects is a biography of Malaparte, by Maurizio Serra.

The Lucien Stryk Asian Translation Prize

The second of two specialty awards in the program, this one “ecognizes the importance of Asian translation for international literature and promotes the translation of Asian works into English.”

The winner is Endless Song by Nammāḻvār, translated from Tamil by Archana Venkatesan (Penguin Random House India).

This year’s jurors on this award are Jeffrey Angles, Maithreyi Karnoor, and Rajiv Mohabir.

Archana Venkatesan is professor of religious studies and comparative literature at the University of California, Davis. She studies text, visuality, and performance in Tamil speaking South India, with a focus on the early-medieval period.

Her translations are inspired by fieldwork in the temples of Tamilnadu, where Tamil devotional poetry continues to be read, recited, and relished. Guided by the principles of Indic interpretive practices, she performs her translations with noted South Indian classical vocalist, Sikkil Gurucharan.

Venkatesan is the recipient of fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation, the National Endowment for the Humanities, the National Endowment for the Arts, the American Institute of Indian Studies and Fulbright. She was a UC Davis Chancellor’s Fellow from 2014-2019.

The 2022 National Translation Award in Prose submissions portal will be opened in January.


More from Publishing Perspectives on translation is here, more from us on the American Literary Translators Association is here, and more from us on publishing and book awards is here.

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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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