October 15, 2020—The American Literary Translators Association (ALTA) is pleased to announce the winner of the 2020 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 Jeanne Bonner, Richard Dixon, and Antony Shugaar.
This year’s winner was awarded at the ALTA’s 43rd annual conference, In Between, the first ALTA conference to be held virtually. The ceremony included a focus on the 2020 shortlist, presented by judges Jeanne Bonner and Richard Dixon, and the winner and a tribute to her were highlighted by judge Antony Shugaar, followed by a brief statement by Tommaso Jucker, son of the winner. The announcement was made on October 15, 2020 on the ALTA virtual conference platform Crowdcast, and is viewable there through 2020, and will be viewable after that at the ALTA YouTube channel. The winner will be awarded a $5,000 prize.
Winner: 2020 Italian Prose in Translation Award
I Am God
By Giacomo Sartori
Translated from the Italian by Frederika Randall
God has an existential crisis and falls in love with the unlikeliest of humans. Why, he asks, with eight billion to look after, should I go for a geneticist who also happens to be a fanatical atheist? Being all-powerful is losing its appeal but would life as a mortal be any better? Through the eyes of our omniscient narrator we look at the immensity of human insignificance as he meditates on beauty, goodness, the environment, the cosmos and our miserable attempts at religion. Sartori’s deliciously absurd humor is magnificently translated by Frederika Randall who catches his mocking voice with great ingenuity, delivering well-honed one liners with impeccable timing and all the skill of a standup comic.
The judges had the following to say about Frederika Randall, who passed away in May 2020:
Perhaps that skill in translating both humor and absurdity—two sides of the same coin—was an especially useful asset in Randall’s work as a political journalist. She wrote about her own work as a translator, “I like to work on fiction and non-fiction that’s just this side of untranslatable. Books that challenge what non-Italians know about Italian life, or challenge what we think constitutes a memoir, a novel, a work of history.” It is tempting to see her translation work as a continuation of journalism by other means. In the aftermath of her death on May 12, The Nation published an appreciation of her work: “long-time Rome correspondent […] a mordantly funny, never-in-the-least-dispassionate observer […] an acute chronicler of the postwar death spiral of Italian democracy.” Frederika Randall covered Italy—a country that’s just this side of untranslatable—as a journalist and as a translator (translation being a form of journalism, and journalism being a form of translation). She did both with great and uncommon mastery.
Frederika Randall (1948–2020) was a writer, reporter, and translator. Among her numerous translations are Ippolito Nievo’s Confessions of an Italian (2015); Giacomo Sartori’s I Am God (2019), and his forthcoming Bug (2021), both published by Restless Books; and two novels by Guido Morselli, The Communist (2017) and Dissipatio H. G. (2020). Randall received grants from the National Endowment for the Arts and PEN/Heim Translation Fund and was awarded the 2011 Cundill History Prize, with Sergio Luzzatto, for the English translation of Padre Pio: Miracles and Politics in a Secular Age. She died in Rome in May 2020. (Bio from Restless Books.)
The 2021 Italian Prose in Translation Award submissions portal will be opened in January 2021.