October 7, 2017—The American Literary Translators Association (ALTA) is pleased to announce the winners of the 2017 National Translation Awards (NTA) in Poetry and Prose! This is the nineteenth year for the NTA, which is administered by the ALTA, and only the third year to award separate prizes in poetry and prose. The NTA is the 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.
This year’s judges for poetry are Ani Gjika, Katrine Øgaard Jensen, and Gregory Racz. This year’s prose judges are Carol Apollonio, Eric M. B. Becker, and Ottilie Mulzet. Award selection criteria include the quality of the finished English language book, and the quality of the translation.
Winner: 2017 National Translation Award in Poetry
Words from the judges: In Valdivia, a haunting fusion of history, dreamscape, and memory, Chilean Galo Ghigliotto’s speaker offers a complex vision of his provincial birth city as the site of famous battles, a devastating 1960 earthquake (with its ensuing floods), and eerie, otherworldly phenomena amid the scenario of domestic violence that plagued his own family. Written as a series of forty-three poems tellingly presented out of sequence, Valdivia serves as a sort of poetic catharsis for these afflictions which, embedded in reality, can scarcely pull clear of the imagination. Daniel Borzutzky vividly renders this melding of fact, fiction, and the vagaries of recollection in a lucid and precise English.
Winner: 2017 National Translation Award in Prose
Words from the judges: How fortunate we are to finally have this classic of twentieth-century Argentine literature in English. Zama, “pacifier of Indians” and a servant of the Spanish crown in eighteenth-century colonial America, aches for a better post in a city where he might send for his wife and their children. As his prospects dim, Zama descends into economic and moral penury, his rapidly deteriorating situation revealing not only his own prejudices but those behind the Spanish government’s changing relationship to its colonies. Esther Allen’s superb translation captures the remarkable atmosphere and existential anguish of Di Benedetto’s masterwork.
Submissions for the 2018 National Translation Awards will be accepted starting in January 2018. Please visit us at www.literarytranslators.org/awards for more information.