The NTA Countdown to ALTA44: Stories of the Sahara

Join us as we count down to the ALTA44: Inflection Points awards ceremony with the National Translation Award in Poetry and Prose longlisted 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 Jennifer Croft, Anton Hur, and Annie Janusch. This year’s judges for poetry are Sinan Antoon, Layla Benitez-James, and Sibelan Forrester.

The winning translators will receive a $2,500 cash prize each. The awards will be announced at ALTA’s annual conference, ALTA44: Inflection Points, which this year is being held jointly online and in-person in Tucson, AZ. The virtual awards ceremony will be aired on Saturday, October 16, at 5:00pm PT. To attend, register via the virtual conference platform (there is also a free ticket option that includes public events like this one.)

Join us as we shine the spotlight today on this NTA longlisted title, along with a citation penned by the judges:

Stories of the Sahara
By Sanmao
Translated from Chinese by Mike Fu
(Bloomsbury Publishing)

Stories of the Sahara is an absorbing account of a Chinese woman’s experiences living among the Sahrawi people in a 1960s Spanish-occupied mining town in the Sahara. The collection shows the development of a singular voice, from early anecdotal pieces to later essays that paint the complexity of geopolitical events through the particularity of a local community. Indeed, whether chronicling desert phenomena or teaching young girls how to count (so they’ll know how old they are when they’re married off), the thrust of each story is Sanmao’s voice, which, in Mike Fu’s translation, is commendably unaffected. By allowing the “I” to be restless, impulsive, and perpetually seeking, the translation reveals Sanmao’s genuine curiosity and humanity toward her subjects.

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