The American Literary Translators Association (ALTA) is delighted to announce the shortlist for the 2017 Italian Prose in Translation Award. Starting in 2015, the Italian Prose in Translation Award (IPTA) recognizes the importance of contemporary Italian prose (fiction and literary non-fiction) and promotes the translation of Italian works into English. This prize is awarded annually to a translator of a recent work of Italian prose (fiction or literary non-fiction). This year’s judges are Elizabeth Harris, Jim Hicks, and Olivia Sears.
A bestseller in Italy, Francesca Melandri’s debut novel Eva Sleeps, translated by Katherine Gregor, is set against the stark and dramatic Dolomite mountains and southern Alps in the now-autonomous region of northern Italy known as Trentino-Alto Adige/Südtirol. The region’s name alone hints at its tortured history following annexation by Italy during World War I: in addition to the Fascist “Italianization” program that outlawed German language and separatist revolts, marked by sabotage and bombings, South Tyrol has also seen a constant flow of southern Italian immigrants into the region, stoking regional and cultural prejudice. Melandri’s novel follows a single family through the course of the twentieth century. Focusing on Gerda and her daughter Eva, its story explores the power of prejudice and sexual taboo to constrain women, along with the attempts of strong women to wrest back control over their lives. Gregor’s translation negotiates the constant dramatic switches in narrative voice with agility and beautifully captures the many tones of various time periods woven through the novel, from remote mountain village dialogues during the early twentieth-century to the contemporary banter of a crowded train compartment.