US National Book Awards 2022 Longlist: Translation

In News by Porter Anderson

The titles on the National Book Awards’ newly released translation longlist were originally written in nine languages.

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

See also: 

US National Book Awards 2022 Longlist: Young People’s Literature
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ALA’s Tracie Hall Receives the National Book Award’s Literarian Award

Second of Five Categories’ Longlists
The United States’ National Book Foundation—with a prize ceremony set for November 16—has begun today (September 14) announcing its longlists for the 2022 National Book Awards. As this program likes to do, it’s parsing the announcements in five categories across three days.

Finalists—the shortlisted entries—are to be named October 4.

The longlist provided today to members of the news media is for the National Book Award for literature in translation, thus making this the category announcement most interesting to Publishing Perspectives‘ international readership.

As you’ll remember, the National Book Foundation made its widely praised move to add a new category for literature translated into English in 2018.

Not only did this move introduce an unprecedented and needed level of internationalism to this, the highest-profile of multi-sector American book awards, but it also began a process of introducing many United States readers to translated literature and to the translators who produce it–in addition, of course, to many non-American writers that many US readers would never otherwise be aware of.

While it’s clear that the days of the proverbial and pathetic “three percent” of American reading going to translated work–happily it’s beyond that anemic level, although with much “room for improvement,” as Amsterdam’s Michiel Kolman would say–the guidance of a longlist of today’s caliber and the sheer visibility that the National Book Foundation can give both authors and translators is especially valuable in so politically fraught an era as this.

The 10 titles on this year’s translated literature longlist were originally written in nine different languages:  Arabic, Danish, French, German, Japanese, Norwegian, Persian, Polish, and Spanish. It’s good to see that publishers submitted a total of 146 books for the 2022 National Book Award for translated literature.

Six of the longlisted people named today have been recognized before by the National Book Awards.

  • Martin Aitken was a finalist for translated literature in  2018.
  • Jennifer Croft was a finalist for translated literature in 2018
  • Scholastique Mukasonga was a finalist for translated literature in 2019
  • Yoko Tawada and Margaret Mitsutani were the winners of the National Book Award for translated literature in 2018
  • The Nobel-winning Olga Tokarczuk was a finalist for translated literature in 2018, and was longlisted in 2019

Publishing Perspectives readers are familiar with the work of several of these honorees, including Riyadh-born Mohammed Hasan Alwan, who won the 2017 International Prize for Arabic Fiction. Our interview with him is here.

Jennifer Croft is the American translator who spearheaded last year’s #TranslatorsOnTheCover campaign to see publishers credit the work of translators on the covers of books.

In addition, Saša Stanišic won the German Book Prize in 2019, as you’ll remember, for Where You Come From, a title translated at the time as Origins.

And the foundation today makes the point that the authors and translators on this new longlist have been recognized by numerous international prizes, including the Akutagawa Prize; the Prix de la Littérature Arabe; the International Booker Prize; and the PEN Translation Prize. 

The judges  for translated literature are Nick Buzanski, Veronica Esposito, Ann Goldstein (chair), Rohan Kamicheril, and  Russell Scott Valentino.

Translated Literature 2022 Longlist
Author Title Original Language Translator Publisher / Imprint
Mohammed Hasan Alwan Ibn Arabi’s Small Death Arabic William M. Hutchins Center for Middle Eastern Studies / University of Texas Press
Jon Fosse A New Name: Septology VI-VII Norwegian Damion Searls Transit Books
Shahriar Mandanipour Seasons of Purgatory Persian Sara Khalili Bellevue Literary Press
Scholastique Mukasonga Kibogo French Mark Polizzotti Archipelago Books
Mónica Ojeda Jawbone Spanish Sarah Booker Coffee House Press
Olga Ravn The Employees Danish Martin Aitken New Directions
Samanta Schweblin Seven Empty Houses Spanish Megan McDowell Penguin Random House / Riverhead Books
Saša Stanišić Where You Come From German Damion Searls Tin House Books
Yoko Tawada Scattered All Over the Earth Japanese Margaret Mitsutani New Directions
Olga Tokarczuk The Books of Jacob Polish Jennifer Croft Penguin Random House / Riverhead Books

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

This is the second of five categories. Coming up:

    • The National Book Award longlist in poetry
    • The National Book Award longlist in in nonfiction
  • The National Book Award longlist in fiction

This is Publishing Perspectives’ 161st report on awards-related news published in the 170 days since our 2022 operations began on January 3.

National Book Awards trophies. Image: NBA

More from Publishing Perspectives on the National Book Awards in the United States is here and more on the huge field of international book awards and prizes is here. More from us on the United States’ market is here

More from us 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 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.