November 1, 2018—The American Literary Translators Association (ALTA) is delighted to announce the winner of the 2018 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 $5,000 cash prize is awarded annually to a translator of a recent work of Italian prose (fiction or literary non-fiction). This year’s judges are Geoffrey Brock, Peter Constantine, and Sarah Stickney. Read what the judges had to say about the winning title below.
Winner: 2018 Italian Prose in Translation Award
For Isabel, A Mandala
By Antonio Tabucchi
Translated from the Italian by Elizabeth Harris
Translated by Elizabeth Harris, Antonio Tabucchi’s For Isabel, A Mandala leads the reader through a “mandala of consciousness.” This novella is at once a mystery, a magical-realist fairy tale, and a travelogue. As we follow the protagonist in his search for the lost Isabel, we move towards the center of the mystery through the mandala’s concentric circles, meeting strange and intriguing characters who seep out of the past or appear in incongruous haunts around Lisbon and the surrounding territory where the book takes place. Tabucchi creates an intricate web that connects past to present, dream-life to waking. The book is filled with evocative images that seem to float free of mere plot constraints: a string bag of captive frogs let loose in the family garden, a saxophonist in a jazz bar playing to a drinker of absinthe, a single mourner at a faked funeral in a sailor’s chapel by the sea. When asked by a photographer what he is about, the protagonist answers: “It’s simple… to reach consciousness, you photograph reality: you must know what consciousness is.” Harris carries the delicate magic of consciousness from Italian into English with deceptive ease. She works with admirable precision to capture the voices of the different speakers and the details of the shifting context, yet she never sacrifices the dreamy texture of the writing.
Submissions for the 2019 Italian Prose in Translation Award will be accepted starting in January 2019. Please visit us at www.literarytranslators.org/awards for more information.