Announcing the Winner of the 2016 Lucien Stryk Prize!

November 1, 2016— The American Literary Translators Association (ALTA) is delighted to announce the winner of the 2016 Lucien Stryk Asian Translation Prize! The award was officially announced during ALTA’s annual conference, ALTA39: Translation & Crossings, held this year at the Marriott Oakland City Center in Oakland, CA, from October 6-9, 2016.

Lucien Stryk was an internationally acclaimed translator of Japanese and Chinese Zen poetry, renowned Zen poet himself, and former professor of English at Northern Illinois University. The Lucien Stryk Asian Translation Prize recognizes the importance of Asian translation for international literature and promotes the translation of Asian works into English. A $5,000 cash prize is awarded to the translator of the winning title. This year’s judges are Steve Bradbury, Eleanor Goodman, and Kendall Heitzman. Read what the judges had to say about the winning title below.

Winner: 2016 Lucien Stryk Asian Translation Prize


The Collected Poems of Chika Sagawa
By Chika Sagawa
Translated from the Japanese by Sawako Nakayasu
(Canarium Books)

Sagawa Chika is hardly a household name in Japan, yet she was an important member of the prewar Modernist movement in Japan, intimately connected to some of the biggest names in Japanese literature at the time, and in many ways was far more groundbreaking than the men around her. In Sawako Nakayasu she has found a translator more than equipped to bring her poems into English for the first time.

In the opening of “Rusty Knife,” as in other poems, the natural world intrudes on the objects of everyday, urban life, and the words jangle against one another like so many items in a small room, in rich clusters of bilabials, liquids and velar rhymes and half-rhymes:

Pale blue dusk scales the window.
A lamp dangles from the sky like the neck of a woman.
Murky dark air permeates the room – spreads out a single blanket.
The books, ink, and rusty knife seem to be gradually stealing the life out of me.

We hope that this translation will bring Sagawa Chika new readerships in English and perhaps even Japanese as well.

Submissions for the 2017 Lucien Stryk Prize will be accepted starting in January 2017.
Please visit us at for more information.

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Announcing the Winner of the 2016 Italian Prose in Translation Award!

October 31, 2016—The American Literary Translators Association (ALTA) is delighted to announce the winner of the 2016 Italian Prose in Translation Award! The award was officially announced during ALTA’s annual conference, ALTA39: Translation & Crossings, held this year at the Marriott Oakland City Center in Oakland, CA, from October 6-9, 2016.

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 Michael Moore, Jamie Richards, and Russell Valentino. Read what the judges had to say about the winning title below.

Winner: 2016 Italian Prose in Translation Award

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The Story of the Lost Child
By Elena Ferrante
Translated from the Italian by Ann Goldstein
(Europa Editions)

In The Story of the Lost Child, the pseudonymous Elena Ferrante brings full circle her visceral and compelling four-part saga, The Brilliant Friend. Through this cycle of novels, the author traces in acid the close yet conflicted bond between two women, Lila and Elena, from their childhood in the poor quarters of Naples to young adulthood, separation, and the disappearance of Lila decades later. Each character struggles to escape the searing oppression of the city’s lower depths, but each will eventually succumb. Translator Ann Goldstein proves more than equal to the challenge of capturing the grit, color and dynamic of Ferrante’s prose, and has contributed immeasurably to the quartet’s breakaway success.

Submissions for the 2017 Italian Prose in Translation Award will be accepted starting in January 2017.
Please visit us at for more information.

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What’s New in Translation: October 2016

compiled by Maggie Zebracka

Borders by Roy Jacobsenborders
Translated from the Norwegian by Don Bartlett and Don Shaw
Published by Graywolf Press

The Ardennes, a forested, mountainous borderland that spans four nations—France, Germany, Belgium, and Luxembourg—was crucial to Hitler’s invasion of France and host to the Battle of the Bulge. In a small valley among these borders lives young Robert, born of an affair between an American GI and the Belgian nurse who rescued him. In his father’s absence, Robert finds a mentor in Markus Hebel, who has faked blindness ever since serving as a Wehrmacht radio operator in Russia. Markus, in turn, confides his secret to Robert—and then he tells the story of his own son, whose fanatical loyalty to Hitler left him trapped during the siege of Stalingrad. InBorders, Roy Jacobsen brilliantly layers these stories of impossible choices between familial love and national identity, culminating in a nuanced, probing novel of shifting wartime loyalties.

“The novel is replete with metaphor and parable, Jacobsen even using his setting symbolically: there’s the River Our, a natural bridge across national boundaries and the impenetrable Ardennes, never fully revealing itself or the brutality it conceals. Jacobsen analyzes the nature of fiction and nonfiction; delineates the psychological parameters—borders—within which we live as individuals; and, while referencing tiny Luxembourg at Europe’s core, reveals the inevitable conflicts that arise when humankind imposes artificial distinctions.

An artful deconstruction of nationalism through the prism of personal loss and reconciliation. Read Jacobsen’s novel carefully to savor its images and themes.”

Kirkus Reviews

Roy Jacobsen is one of the most celebrated and influential contemporary writers in Norway. Child Wonder was awarded the Norwegian Booksellers’ Prize and The Burnt-Out Town of Miracles was shortlisted for the International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award.

Don Bartlett lives in England and works as a freelance translator of Scandinavian literature. He has translated, or co-translated, Norwegian novels by Lars Saabye Christensen, Roy Jacobsen, Ingvar Ambjornsen, Kjell Ola Dahl, Gunnar Staalesen, Pernille Rygg, and Jo Nesbo.

Don Shaw has co-translated several Norwegian novels, including Doppler by Erlend Loe and Child Wonder by Roy Jacobsen.

best-european-fictionBest European Fiction 2017
Edited by Nathaniel Davis
Preface by Eileen Battersby
Published by Dalkey Archive Press

This anthology is the essential resource for readers, critics, and publishers interested in contemporary European literature. In this, the eighth installment of the series, the anthology continues its commitment to uncovering the best prose writing happening across the continent from Ireland to Eastern Europe. Also featuring an erudite prefatory essay written by Eileen Battersby of the Irish Times, Best European Fiction 2017 is another essential report on the state of global literature in the twenty-first century.

“To judge by this sparkling anthology, the eighth in the series, Europeans live in high places and are given to throwing themselves from them—or at least in front of buses. The protagonist of Danish writer Ida Jessen’s “Postcard to Annie,” for instance, lives in an attic room from which “she could see the red rooftops of Trøjborg, the woods, and the bay of Aarhus Bugt.” We should have a sense of foreboding: Scandinavian gloom and heights do not make a good combination, but the story resolves in vehicular mayhem instead, which just makes the protagonist hungry, if a touch world-weary. In Mikkel Bugge’s contribution from Norway, a “girl leaps from the fifth floor wearing an Alice in Wonderland costume,” while in Macedonian writer Snežana Mladenovska Angjelkov’s “Beba,” the jumper is less clearly defined: “Something fell from the building. I didn’t see exactly what it was.” What that “something” is lies at the heart of her pensive, economical tale. Other writers take those heights even higher: more than one turns to outer space, including Liechtenstein’s contribution to the proceedings, in which binational writer Jonathan Huston imagines a grumpy retired astronaut, very much in his dotage, recalling a lunar rock whose “color was alien, like a rainbow trapped in amber, graceful and fragile and bound to give the geologists on Earth wet dreams.” Wet dreams? Well, it being Europe and all, there’s some sex, mostly understated and angst-y—and on that aging continent there’s also a pronounced thematic preference for the experiences of the old, such as the narrator of Ticinese writer Giovanni Orelli’s “Death by Laughter,” who is “ninety nine point nine years old, a hundred let’s say,” with all the intimations of mortality attendant.

Generalizations aside, the 29 stories here are excellent and frequently brilliant, with none of the workshopped feel of so many of their American counterparts. Of interest to literary readers of English on both sides of the water.”

Kirkus Reviews

Born in California, Eileen Battersby is a graduate of University College Dublin. An Irish Times staff arts journalist and literary reviewer, she has won the National Arts Journalist of the Year award four times and was National Critic of the Year in 2012. Second Readings: From Beckett to Black Beauty was published in 2009. Ordinary Dogs – A Story of Two Liveswas published by Faber in 2011. Teethmarks on My Tongue, her first novel, is published by Dalkey Archive.

Nathaniel Davis is a freelance editor living in Paris. He is also a translator and holds a PhD in comparative literature from the University of Pennsylvania.

a-spare-lifeA Spare Life by Lidija Dimkovska
Translated from the Macedonian by Christina Kramer
Published by Two Lines Press

It is 1984, and 12-year-old twins Zlata and Srebra live in communist Yugoslavia. In many ways their lives are like that of young girls anywhere, except for one immense difference: Zlata’s and Srebra’s bodies are conjoined at their heads.

A Spare Life tells the story of their emergence from girls to young adults, from their desperately poor, provincial childhoods to their determination to become successful, independent women. After years of discovery and friendship, their lives are thrown into crisis when an incident threatens to destroy their bond as sisters. They fly to London, determined to be surgically separated—but will this dangerous procedure free them, or only more tightly ensnare them?

In A Spare Life master poet and award-winning novelist Lidija Dimkovska lovingly tells the lives of two astonishing girls caught up in Eastern Europe’s transition from communism to democracy. A saga about families, sisterhood, and being outcasts, A Spare Life reveals an existence where even the simplest of actions is unlike any we’ve ever experienced.

Lidija Dimkovska is the recipient of numerous awards, including the 2013 European Union Prize for Literature for A Spare Life. She is also the author of the poetry collection pH Neutral History (Copper Canyon Press, 2012), which was a finalist for the 2013 Best Translated Book Award, and Do Not Awaken Them With Hammers (Ugly Duckling Presse, 2006). She lives in Ljubljana, Slovenia.

Christina E. Kramer is a professor of Slavic and Balkan languages and linguistics at the University of Toronto. She is the author of numerous books on the Macedonian language and the Balkans and is the translator of Freud’s Sister, The Time of the Goats, and My Father’s Books. She lives in Toronto.

A Zero Sum Game by Eduardo Rabasaa-zero-sum-game
Translated from the Spanish by Christina MacSweeney
Published by Deep Vellum

Villa Miserias is a suburb of a suburb where everyone knows their place and nothing ever changes. Every two years, elections are held for the presidency of the residents’ committee, and every two years there are no surprises. But the balance begins to shift with the arrival of Selon Perdumes and his theory of Quietism in Motion. With his alabaster smile, he uncovers the deepest secrets of the unwary residents, and transforms their fantasies in reality with the help of the loans he offers them. Growing rich from money-lending, Perdumes gradually becomes the spectral power behind the community. But when Max Michels, sunk in an obsessive relationship with the beautiful, black-eyed Nelly, and, struggling to silence the multiple dissenting voices in his head, decides to run for president without Perdumes’ permission, the battle lines are drawn.

A Zero Sum Game is a biting satire of contemporary consumer society and the cult of the individual, liberally sprinkled with humor and chilling realism. Rabasa’s clear, steady gaze rests on the sophistry and rationalizations that mask the actual situation where, for all the choices we are offered, we have little power over our destinies. Swift would raise his hat to this debut novelist.

Eduardo Rabasa (b. 1978) is the founding editorial director of Sexto Piso, Mexico’s most prominent independent publishing house and winner of the 2004 International Young Publisher of the Year Award. He studied political science at Mexico’s National University (UNAM), where he graduated with a thesis on the concept of power in the works of George Orwell. He writes a weekly column for the national newspaper Milenio, and has translated books by authors including Morris Berman, George Orwell, and Somerset Maugham. A Zero-Sum Game is Rabasa’s debut novel, and was originally published in Mexico by Sur+. He was named one of the top 20 Mexican writers under the age of 40 by Hay Festival, the British Council, and Conaculta as part of their Mexico20 project. He currently resides in Mexico City.

Christina MacSweeney is a literary translator specializing in Latin American fiction. Her translations of Valeria Luiselli’s Faces in the Crowd, Sidewalks and The Story of My Teeth were published by Granta and Coffee House Press in 2012 and 2013 and 2015 respectively; Faces in the Crowd was a finalist for the Best Translated Book Award, 2015. Her work has also appeared on a variety of platforms and in the anthologyMéxico20 (Pushkin Press, 2015). Her translations of Daniel Saldaña París’s Among Strange Victimsand Eduardo Rabasa’s A Zero Sum Game are forthcoming from Coffee House Press and Deep Vellum respectively in 2016.

Maggie Zebracka is a graduate of Wellesley College and Vanderbilt University. Originally zebrackafrom southeastern Poland, she currently lives and writes in West Texas.

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Announcing the 2016 NTA Shortlists in Poetry and Prose!

September 29, 2016—The American Literary Translators Association (ALTA) is pleased to announce the shortlists for the 2016 National Translation Awards (NTA) in Poetry and Prose! This is the eighteenth year for the NTA, which is administered by the ALTA, and only the second year to award separate prizes in poetry and prose. The NTA is the only national award for translated fiction, poetry, and literary nonfiction that includes a rigorous examination of both the source text and its relation to the finished English work.

This year’s judges for poetry are Adriana Jacobs, Karen Kovacik, and Cole Swensen. This year’s prose judges are Karen Emmerich, Andrea Labinger, and Marian Schwartz. Award selection criteria include the quality of the finished English language book, and the quality of the translation.

The winning translators will receive a $2,500 cash prize each, and the awards will be announced at ALTA’s annual conference, held this year at the Marriott Oakland City Center in Oakland, CA from October 6-9, 2016. Follow our blog (, Twitter (@LitTranslate), or Facebook ( for the announcement of the winners!

The 2016 NTA Shortlist in Poetry (in alphabetical order by title):

minute-operasMinute-Operas by Frédéric Forte (France)
Translated from the French by Daniel Levin Becker, Ian Monk, Michelle Noteboom, Jean-Jacques Poucel
(Burning Deck)

Ludic by nature, Forte, a member of the Oulipo since 2005, takes on the Musée du Louvre in this spatially and visually activated collection. Using quick cuts, oblique glances, and slippery connections, Forte creates an associative field around a series of the museum’s pieces from antiquity, one per page, augmented by a complex choreography—a bit reminiscent of those dance diagrams from the 50s—but incorporating the entire repertory of 21st century computer iconography. Translating this work meant not only translating words, phrases, spaces, displacements, leaps, gaps, and an array of symbols, but also a gamut of delicate tones, including irony, slang, several levels of humor, and tinges of melancholy. This translation, done by team of four, all bilingual, is positively acrobatic, even balletic—as is the original.

rilkeshakecoverRilke Shake by Angélica Freitas (Brazil)
Translated from the Portuguese by Hilary Kaplan
(Phoneme Media)

Freitas’ title, a pun on milkshake, suggests in just three syllables the method of this madly exuberant book. The author shakes and swirls literary modernism (Moore, Stein, Pound, Bishop, Pessoa, Rilke) in a lexical blender of slang, neologisms (“dismallarmament”), spells, and loans from other languages. Hilary Kaplan zooms around each linguistic curve along with the poet, finding inventive solutions to bring into English the sounds, rhythms, play, and verve of the Portuguese. Only this omnivorous appetite for the flavors of words, Freitas implies, can save us from a two-dimensional understanding of history, poetry, and ourselves.

theblackflowerThe Black Flower and Other Zapotec Poems by Natalia Toledo (Mexico)
Translated from the Isthmus Zapotec and Spanish by Clare Sullivan
(Phoneme Media)

In her long poem addressed to T.S. Eliot, Natalia Toledo contemplates the “waste land” of linguistic death, in which her children, “homeless birds in the jungle of / forgetfulness,” will no longer speak Zapotec. This trilingual collection in Zapotec, Spanish, and English stakes a claim against such erasure through its exquisite evocations of the flora, fauna, and history of Toledo’s indigenous culture. Clare Sullivan’s meticulous translations, derived from closely comparing Toledo’s Spanish versions of her Zapotec originals, render this world accessible without condescending or domesticating, allowing the “humid magma” and olfactory richness of The Black Flower to flourish in English.

sagawacoverspdThe Collected Poems of Chika Sagawa by Chika Sagawa (Japan)
Translated from the Japanese by Sawako Nakayasu
(Canarium Books)

For readers new to Chika Sagawa’s work, this collection offers a thorough and persuasive introduction to her work, but Sawako Nakayasu’s expert and exquisite translations also reveal the extent to which these poems remain charged with currency and energy many decades after Sagawa’s early death at the age of 24. In her astute selection from Sagawa’s oeuvre, Nakayasu argues that “Japanese Modernism was not so much an offshoot of European art movements, but rather its own complex web of developments that evolved on its own terms.” So too did Chika Sagawa, who refused to get “chipped away” by the trends of her day.

white_blight_cover_croppedWhite Blight by Athena Farrokhzad (Sweden)
Translated from the Swedish by Jennifer Hayashida
(Argos Books)

Athena Farrokhzad’s White Blight explores with unsparing brutality the distorted and “disfiguring” relation between memory and history, native and immigrant languages, parents and children.  The mother who “let bleach run through her syntax,” also “put her barbarism” in her daughter’s mouth. Jennifer Hayashida’s startling translation is attentive to the distinct voices that shape the book’s intergenerational argument on diaspora, home and belonging. As a visual artist, she is also sensitive to the material properties of the book, the way the white English text moves within and pushes against black highlighted space, calling attention to what remains unwritten, “bleached out” between the white lines.

The 2016 NTA Shortlist in Prose (in alphabetical order by title):

leg_over_leg_paperback_covers-page-001Leg over Leg by Ahmad Faris al-Shidyaq (Lebanon)
Translated from the Arabic by Humphrey Davies
(Library of Arabic Literature/NYU Press)

Humphrey Davies’ masterful translation of Faris al-Shidyaq’s Leg over Leg is the English-language reader’s first introduction to the work of this foundational figure of Arabic letters. The protagonist leaves his native Lebanon to make a life for himself elsewhere as an itinerant scribe, poet, translator, editor, and author. This is a book about books, about conventions of writing, reading, bookmaking, cultural creation and crossings, bristling with puns and long digressions about the “oddities of language, including its rare words”—a preoccupation that makes Davies’ translation all the more remarkable as a work of literature and scholarship both.

lispector_complete_stories_jacket_hiresThe Complete Stories by Clarice Lispector by Clarice Lispector (Brazil)
Translated from the Portuguese by Katrina Dodson
(New Directions)

Katrina Dodson’s translation of The Complete Stories of Clarice Lispector is as innovative and mesmerizing as the original texts. The early stories are innocent and intensely strange, as Lispector continues to try on different voices; the volume ends four decades later, with stories that are more confident but still intensely strange. Dodson brilliantly conveys Lispector’s unconventional gaze, which never seems to be looking where we expect in this tour de force of thought and style.

daoud_meursaultinvestigationThe Meursault Investigation by Kamel Daoud (Algeria)
Translated from the French by John Cullen
(Other Press)

Kamel Daoud’s The Meursault Investigation is a powerful reimagining of the story of Albert Camus’s The Stranger—or, rather, a writing-back that imagines not only the death but also the life of the unnamed “Arab” shot and killed on an Algerian beach in Camus’s novel. Daoud gives Meursault’s victim a name, Musa, as well as a family: a mother to mourn him and a younger brother intent on rescuing his revered elder brother from the obscurity of a false fame by telling his own version of his brother’s death, life, people, and land. John Cullen’s translation is lively, colloquial, conversational, and beautifully crafted.

physics_of_sorrow-frontThe Physics of Sorrow by Georgi Gospodinov (Bulgaria)
Translated from the Bulgarian by Angela Rodel
(Open Letter Books)

Alternately funny and heartbreaking, this labyrinthine tale—befitting the Minotaur motif at its core—erases time and space to explore what it means to be a sentient being on this planet.  The novel is unabashedly non-linear, leading the reader down blind alleys, from Classical antiquity to the twentieth century’s two world wars, with periodic, grim glimpses of life in Soviet Bulgaria. An exercise in the art of story-telling, The Physics of Sorrow offers countless possibilities for a dénouement. While hope is by no means guaranteed, it is never entirely excluded, either. Angela Rodel’s translation is magnificent.

Tristano_Dies_cover.pngTristano Dies: A Life by Antonio Tabucchi (Italy)
Translated from the Italian by Elizabeth Harris
(Archipelago Books)

In Antonio Tabucchi’s Tristano Dies, a dying Italian Resistance hero has called a writer to his bedside to tell him the story not of his life—a life of love and war, fidelity and betrayal—but of the mind that lived it.  Elizabeth Harris’s English translation is that rare and thrilling instance of transcendent translation that stands, independently, on the same high level as the original, a level Harris sustains through this mesmerizing and thought-provoking text.

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Announcing the 2016 ALTA Travel Fellowship Recipients!

– $1,000 to emerging translators working from
– Fellows reading at ALTA39: Translation & Crossings (October 6-9, 2016 in Oakland, CA)

ALTA is pleased to announce the winners of the 2016 ALTA Travel Fellowships, including the very first Peter K. Jansen Memorial Travel Fellowship. Each year, ALTA provides four to six $1,000 fellowships to emerging translators to attend the annual ALTA conference. This year’s winners were selected by Cathy Nelson, Katie Silver, Sarah Stickney, and Matvei Yankelevich. Congratulations to these exceptional emerging translators, chosen from more than 140 applications:

Bruna Dantas Lobato, 2016 Peter K. Jansen Memorial Travel Fellow (Brazilian Portuguese)
Bruna Dantas Lobato’s writings and translations have appeared in BOMB, Ploughshares online, The Millions, Words Without Borders, Asymptote, and elsewhere. She is the Fiction Editor of Washington Square Review and an MFA candidate in Fiction at New York University, where she teaches creative writing. She is originally from Natal, Brazil. Read more about Bruna here.

Monika Cassel, 2016 ALTA Travel Fellow (German)
Monika Cassel is a translator, poet, and educator. Her translations have appeared in POETRY Magazine, Michigan Quarterly Review, Guernica, and Asymptote; her forthcoming chapbook won the 2015 Venture Poetry Award. She holds a PhD in comparative literature from the University of Michigan and teaches German at Oregon State University. Read more about Monika here.

Nicholas Glastonbury, 2016 ALTA Travel Fellow (Turkish)
Nicholas Glastonbury is a translator and writer based in Brooklyn. He is a PhD student in cultural anthropology at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York, and is also a co-editor of the Turkey Page for the e-zine Jadaliyya. Read more about Nicholas here.

Haider Shahbaz, 2016 ALTA Travel Fellow (Urdu)
Haider Shahbaz has a B.A. from Yale University and an MFA from University of Nevada, Las Vegas. His translations have appeared in Brooklyn Rail, Portland Review, Aldus, and elsewhere. His work has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize. Starting in October, he will be the Charles Pick Fellow at University of East Anglia. Read more about Haider here.

Kelsi Vanada, 2016 ALTA Travel Fellow (Spanish)
Kelsi Vanada is pursuing an MFA in Literary Translation at the University of Iowa and holds an MFA in Poetry from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop (2016). She writes poems, and translates poetry from Spanish and the Scandinavian languages. She won Asymptote’s 2016 Close Approximations Translation Contest. Recent work at Asymptote, New Delta Review, and Prelude. Read more about Kelsi here.

As part of ALTA39: Translation & Crossings, October 6-9, 2016 in Oakland, CA, there will be a Fellows Reading on Friday, October 7 from 5:15pm – 6:45pm. More information on the conference is available at

The mentor for the 2016 ALTA Travel Fellows is Elizabeth Harris.

More details about ALTA Travel Fellowships available at

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