Announcing the Winner of the 2018 Italian Prose in Translation Award!

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_-_Cover_For Isabel, A Mandala 
By Antonio Tabucchi
Translated from the Italian by Elizabeth Harris
(Archipelago Books)

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.

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1 Day to Go! The NTA Countdown to ALTA41: THIRD-MILLENNIUM HEART

Join us as we count down to ALTA41: Performance, Props, and Platforms with the National Translation Award in Poetry and Prose long- and shortlisted titles! We will be featuring the titles in alphabetical order, moving first through the longlisted and then the shortlisted titles, alongside blurbs penned by our judges for the National Translation Awards in Poetry and Prose. This year’s judges for poetry are Kareem James Abu-Zeid, Jennifer Feeley, and Sawako Nakayasu, and this year’s prose judges are Esther Allen, Tess Lewis, and Jeremy Tiang.

For quick reference, you may find the NTA longlists here, and the NTA shortlists here. Today we’re shining the spotlight on Third-Millennium Heart, shortlisted for the National Translation Award in Poetry:

3rdMillenniumHeart_FINAL-smallThird-Millennium Heart
by Ursula Andkjær Olsen
translated from the Danish by Katrine Øgaard Jensen
(Action Books)

Danish poet Ursula Andkjær Olsen’s compelling work travels through dark chambers of desire, power, and creation, conjuring up a feminist space where culture and nature wage war with one another, where psychology and anatomy merge to create a uniquely modern mytho-poetics. Katrine Øgaard Jensen’s masterful translation has a strong rhythm all its own, and captures the book’s jarring quality in a remarkably smooth rendering. By the end of this insidious text, the reader is just as “namedrunk” as the book’s enigmatic lyrical subject, and discovers that their own “heartspace,” too, has been torn open, dissected, and beautifully recreated.

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2 Days to Go! The NTA Countdown to ALTA41: SWALLOWING MERCURY

Join us as we count down to ALTA41: Performance, Props, and Platforms with the National Translation Award in Poetry and Prose long- and shortlisted titles! We will be featuring the titles in alphabetical order, moving first through the longlisted and then the shortlisted titles, alongside blurbs penned by our judges for the National Translation Awards in Poetry and Prose. This year’s judges for poetry are Kareem James Abu-Zeid, Jennifer Feeley, and Sawako Nakayasu, and this year’s prose judges are Esther Allen, Tess Lewis, and Jeremy Tiang.

For quick reference, you may find the NTA longlists here, and the NTA shortlists here. Today we’re shining the spotlight on Swallowing Mercury, shortlisted for the National Translation Award in Prose:

9781945492044_FCSwallowing Mercury
by Wioletta Greg
translated from the Polish by Eliza Marciniak
(Transit Books)

The dank, claustrophobic atmosphere of rural 1980s Poland is brilliantly evoked in Wioletta Greg’s debut collection, which balances on a knife-edge between the comforting and sinister. Beautiful, sensual images and details populate these stories of childhood, dizzying in their intensity and deployed with consummate skill. As the narrator grows older and innocence gives way to experience, mirroring the transformation of the country itself, the prose toughens and the wider world begins to intrude. Eliza Marciniak’s translation finds an earthy,expressive vocabulary that perfectly suits the headstrong protagonist and the rough-hewn world she lives in. A dark, fractured fairy tale.

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3 Days to Go! The NTA Countdown to ALTA41: OLD RENDERING PLANT

Join us as we count down to ALTA41: Performance, Props, and Platforms with the National Translation Award in Poetry and Prose long- and shortlisted titles! We will be featuring the titles in alphabetical order, moving first through the longlisted and then the shortlisted titles, alongside blurbs penned by our judges for the National Translation Awards in Poetry and Prose. This year’s judges for poetry are Kareem James Abu-Zeid, Jennifer Feeley, and Sawako Nakayasu, and this year’s prose judges are Esther Allen, Tess Lewis, and Jeremy Tiang.

For quick reference, you may find the NTA longlists here, and the NTA shortlists here. Today we’re shining the spotlight on Old Rendering Plant, shortlisted for the National Translation Award in Prose:

Old-Rendering-Plant_Front-Cover-with-QuoteOld Rendering Plant
by Wolfgang Hilbig
translated from the German by Isabel Fargo Cole
(Two Lines Press)

The narrator of this slender but forceful book recalls a childhood spent in thrall to an old coal plant repurposed as a slaughterhouse in which animal fat is rendered. Forbidden to go near it, he nonetheless returns day after day, uncovering in each foray a bit more of the reality his community refuses to acknowledge but that nonetheless pervades the region as insistently as the stench from the plant. In sensuous, exuberant, but unsettling prose, Hilbig distills these childhood memories into an elixir that has more than a hint of toxicity. Isabel Cole Fargo’s translation sinuous, supple translation beautifully capture the original’s ominous tone.

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4 Days to Go! The NTA Countdown to ALTA41: THE ODYSSEY

Join us as we count down to ALTA41: Performance, Props, and Platforms with the National Translation Award in Poetry and Prose long- and shortlisted titles! We will be featuring the titles in alphabetical order, moving first through the longlisted and then the shortlisted titles, alongside blurbs penned by our judges for the National Translation Awards in Poetry and Prose. This year’s judges for poetry are Kareem James Abu-Zeid, Jennifer Feeley, and Sawako Nakayasu, and this year’s prose judges are Esther Allen, Tess Lewis, and Jeremy Tiang.

For quick reference, you may find the NTA longlists here, and the NTA shortlists here. Today we’re shining the spotlight on The Odyssey, shortlisted for the National Translation Award in Poetry:

Cover_-_The_OdysseyThe Odyssey
by Homer
translated from the Greek by Emily Wilson
(W. W. Norton & Company)

Emily Wilson’s fresh take on this ancient Homeric epic is both scholarly exacting and a pleasure to read. Rendered into a colloquial iambic pentameter that matches the same number of lines as the Greek hexameters, her buoyant rhythms and fresh, vivid imagery weave a gripping, brisk-paced narrative that is hard to put down. Wilson’s efforts can also be considered an intervention to slough off the anachronistic biases and oversimplifications found in many previous translations. The result is a work that is crisp, forceful, daring, and nuanced, a monumental rendering of a monumental text, “an old story for our modern times.”

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