The NTA Countdown to ALTA42: Berlin Alexanderplatz

Join us as we count down to ALTA42: Sight and Sound with the National Translation Award in Poetry and Prose long- and shortlisted titles! We will be featuring the titles in alphabetical order alongside blurbs penned by our judges for the National Translation Awards in Poetry and Prose. This year’s prose judges are Bonnie Huie, Charlotte Mandell, and Jeffrey Zuckerman. This year’s judges for poetry are Anna Deeny Morales, Cole Heinowitz, and Sholeh Wolpe.

For quick reference, you may find the NTA longlists here, and the NTA shortlists here. Today we’re shining the spotlight on Prose NTA longlisted title Berlin Alexanderplatz:

Berlin AlexanderplatzBerlin Alexanderplatz
by Alfred Döblin
translated from the German by Michael Hofmann
(New York Review Books)

This notable retranslation of Döblin’s classic, written during the decline of the Weimar Republic, renders its prose with a freewheeling lyricism that displays ingenuity on translator Michael Hofmann’s part. The mottled prose manages to convey pathos and irony, and at the same time, elevates the vernacular of the riffraff whose sordid lives the novel portrays. Scenes like the one of the slaughterhouse are so brutal and affecting that it wouldn’t be an exaggeration to say that this portrait of a democratic society in total collapse is without peer.

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