Announcing the Winner of the 2021 Lucien Stryk Asian Translation Prize: Endless Song

October 16, 2021—The American Literary Translators Association (ALTA) is pleased to announce the winner of the 2021 Lucien Stryk Asian Translation Prize! This prize, which was inaugurated in 2009, recognizes the importance of Asian translation for international literature and promotes the translation of Asian works into English. This year’s judges are Jeffrey Angles, Maithreyi Karnoor, and Rajiv Mohabir.

This year’s winner was awarded at the ALTA’s 44th annual conference, Inflection Points, held jointly virtually and in-person in Tucson, AZ. The ceremony was held virtually, and included a focus on the 2021 shortlist, presented by ALTA Vice-President Anne O. Fisher, and the winner was featured in conversation with her and then conducted a brief reading. The announcement will be viewable on the ALTA Crowdcast channel. The winner will be awarded a $6,000 prize.

Winner: 2021 Lucien Stryk Asian Translation Prize

Endless Song
By Nammāḻvār
Translated from Tamil by Archana Venkatesan 
(Penguin Random House India)

From the judges:

Endless Song is Archana Venkatesan’s monumental translation of the Tiruvāymoḻi, one of India’s most enduring Bhakti poetic texts. Over the course of 1,102 intricately wrought stanzas, the 9th-century Tamil poet Nammāḻvār sings of his dizzying, ecstatic love for the always-present, yet always-elusive divine. Thanks to Venkatesan’s more than three decades of work on this project, this important text now sings to us in the English-speaking world as well. In south India, this work is not just read and studied on the page, but also performed in communal readings. It is therefore appropriate that Venkatesan has crafted a translation that one can experience not only as a well-annotated, definitive work of scholarship, but also as a living, breathing work of contemporary poetry, too.   

Archana Venkatesan is Professor of Religious Studies and Comparative Literature at the University of California, Davis. She studies text, visuality, and performance in Tamil speaking South India, with a focus on the early-medieval period. Her translations are inspired by extensive fieldwork in the temples of Tamilnadu, where Tamil devotional poetry continues to be read, recited, and relished. Guided by the principles of Indic interpretive practices, she performs her translations with noted South Indian classical vocalist, Sikkil Gurucharan. Archana is the recipient of fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation, the National Endowment for the Humanities, the National Endowment for the Arts, the American Institute of Indian Studies and Fulbright. She was a UC Davis Chancellor’s Fellow from 2014-2019.

The 2022 Lucien Stryk Asian Translation Prize submissions portal will be opened in January 2022.

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