Announcing the Best Translated Book Award 2019 Longlists

The Best Translated Book Award 2019 longlists for both the fiction and poetry awards have been announced at The Millions. This is the twelfth year that the Best Translated Book Award has honored and celebrated literature in translation.

But maybe you’ve never heard of the Best Translated Book Award before! It’s one of the most interesting and diverse book awards out there. This year’s lists alone feature authors writing in sixteen different languages, from twenty-four different countries. And the presses! So many great presses. The majority are either independent or university presses. Are you looking for a book published by a small press for your Read Harder challenge? What about a book translated by a woman? This award is a great place to start!

I’ve been a fan of the Best Translated Book Award for years and was thrilled to be chosen as a member for this year’s fiction jury. And I’m one of many past and present Book Riot contributors and staff to have been a judge (including contributor Tara Cheesman who is also a judge this year, Executive Editor Amanda Nelson, and contributor Rachel Cordasco). More than 500 titles were eligible and it was an incredible year for international literature—I’m wildly excited to share these lists with you!

Fiction Longlist. Best Translated Book Award 2019 Longlists

Best Translated Book Award 2019 Longlist: Fiction

Congo Inc.: Bismarck’s Testament by In Koli Jean Bofane, translated from the French by Marjolijn de Jager(Democratic Republic of Congo, Indiana University Press) 

The Hospital by Ahmed Bouanani, translated from the French by Lara Vergnaud (Morocco, New Directions)

A Dead Rose by Aurora Cáceres, translated from the Spanish by Laura Kanost (Peru, Stockcero)

Love in the New Millennium by Xue Can, translated from the Chinese by Annelise Finegan Wasmoen (China, Yale University Press)

Slave Old Man by Patrick Chamoiseau, translated from the French by Linda Coverdale (Martinique, New Press)

Wedding Worries by Stig Dagerman, translated from the Swedish by Paul Norlen and Lo Dagerman (Sweden, David Godine)

Pretty Things by Virginie Despentes, translated from the French by Emma Ramadan, (France, Feminist Press)

Disoriental by Negar Djavadi, translated from the French by Tina Kover (Iran, Europa Editions)

Dézafi by Frankétienne, translated from the French by Asselin Charles (published by Haiti, University of Virginia Press)

Bottom of the Sky by Rodrigo Fresán, translated from the Spanish by Will Vanderhyden (Argentina, Open Letter)

Bride and Groom by Alisa Ganieva, translated from the Russian by Carol Apollonio (Russia, Deep Vellum)

People in the Room by Norah Lange, translated from the Spanish by Charlotte Whittle (Argentina, And Other Stories)

Comemadre by Roque Larraquy, translated from the Spanish by Heather Cleary (Argentina, Coffee House)

Moon Brow by Shahriar Mandanipour, translated from the Persian by Khalili Sara (Iran, Restless Books)

Bricks and Mortar by Clemens Meyer, translated from the German by Katy Derbyshire (Germany, Fitzcarraldo Editions)

Convenience Store Woman by Sayaka Murata, translated from the Japanese by Ginny Tapley Takemori (Japan, Grove)

After the Winter by Guadalupe Nettel, translated from the Spanish by Rosalind Harvey (Mexico, Coffee House)

Transparent City by Ondjaki, translated from the Portuguese by Stephen Henighan (Angola, Biblioasis)

Lion Cross Point by Masatsugo Ono, translated from the Japanese by Angus Turvill (Japan, Two Lines Press)

The Governesses by Anne Serre, translated from the French by Mark Hutchinson (France, New Directions)

Öræfï: The Wasteland by Ófeigur Sigurðsson, translated from the Icelandic by Lytton Smith (Iceland, Deep Vellum)

Codex 1962 by Sjón, translated from the Icelandic by Victoria Cribb (Iceland, FSG)

Flights by Olga Tokarczuk, translated from the Polish by Jennifer Croft (Poland, Riverhead)

Fox by Dubravka Ugresic, translated from the Croatian by Ellen Elias-Bursac and David Williams (Croatia, Open Letter)

Seventeen by Hideo Yokoyama, translated from the Japanese by Louise Heal Kawai (Japan, FSG)

This year’s fiction jury is made up of: Pierce Alquist (Book Riot), Caitlin L. Baker (Island Books), Kasia Bartoszyńska (Monmouth College), Tara Cheesman (freelance book critic), George Carroll (, Adam Hetherington (reader), Keaton Patterson (Brazos Bookstore), Sofia Samatar (writer), Ely Watson (A Room of One’s Own).

Best Translated Book Award 2019 Longlist: Poetry

The Future Has an Appointment with the Dawn by Tenella Boni, translated from the French by Todd Fredson(Cote D’Ivoire, University of Nebraska)

Dying in a Mother Tongue by Roja Chamankar, translated from the Persian by Blake Atwood (Iran, University of Texas)

Moss & Silver by Jure Detela, translated from the Slovenian by Raymond Miller and Tatjana Jamnik (Slovenia, Ugly Duckling)

Of Death. Minimal Odes by Hilda Hilst, translated from the Portuguese by Laura Cesarco Eglin (Brazil, co-im-press)

Autobiography of Death by Kim Hysesoon, translated from the Korean by Don Mee Choi (Korea, New Directions)

Negative Space by Luljeta Lleshanaku, translated from the Albanian by Ani Gjika (Albania, New Directions)

Scardanelli by Frederike Mayrocker, translated from the German by Jonathan Larson (Austria, Song Cave)

the easiness and the loneliness by Asta Olivia Nordenhof, translated from the Danish by Susanna Nied(Denmark, Open Letter)

Nioque of the Early-Spring by Francis Ponge, translated from the French by Jonathan Larson (France, Song Cave)

Architecture of a Dispersed Life by Pable de Rokha, translated from the Spanish by Urayoán Noel (Chile, Shearsman Books)

The poetry jury includes: Jarrod Annis (Greenlight Bookstore), Katrine Øgaard Jensen (EuropeNow), Tess Lewis (writer and translator), Aditi Machado (poet and translator), and Laura Marris (writer and translator).

Founded in 2007, the Best Translated Book Award brings attention to the best works of translated literature published in the previous year. The winning author and translator each receive a $5,000 cash prize for both the fiction and poetry award, totaling $20,000 thanks to grant funds from the Amazon Literary Partnership.

For more information, visit the official Best Translated Book Award site and follow the award on Twitter. Over the next month, leading up to the announcement of the shortlists, Three Percent will be featuring a different title each day as part of the “Why This Book Should Win” series.

Announcing the 2019 Man Booker International Prize Shortlist

The Man Booker International Prize honoring the finest works of translated fiction from around the world released its shortlist yesterday, narrowing down the list from 13 books to six.

The winner of the 2019 prize will be announced on May 21, with the £50,000 prize being divided equally between the author and the translator of the winning book. Next year, the prize will be known as the International Booker Prize, as the sponsorship from the Man Group comes to an end and the prize’s new sponsor Crankstart begins funding.

The list spans five languages—Arabic, French, German, Polish, and Spanish—and is dominated by independent publishers. “The list includes Olga Tokarczuk, who won the prize in 2018 for Flights [translated by Jennifer Croft], with her other translator into English, Antonia Lloyd-Jones; Jokha Alharthi, the first writer from the Arabian Gulf to be longlisted for the prize, alongside Marilyn Booth; and Alia Trabucco Zerán, who makes the list with her debut novel translated by Sophie Hughes. The list also includes The Years by Annie Ernaux and translated by Alison L. Strayer, which has already won prizes including Prix Renaudot in France and Premio Strega in Italy.”

Bettany Hughes, chair of the 2019 Man Booker International Prize judging panel, commented on the list, saying: “Wisdom in all its forms is here. Unexpected and unpredictable narratives compelled us to choose this vigorous shortlist. Subversive and intellectually ambitious with welcome flashes of wit, each book nourishes creative conversation. We were struck by the lucidity and supple strength of all the translations.”

2019 Man Booker International Prize Shortlist

Celestial Bodies by Jokha Alharthi (Arabic/Omani),  translated by Marilyn Booth (Sandstone Press Ltd)

The Years by Annie Ernaux (French/French), translated by Alison L. Strayer (Fitzcarraldo Editions)

The Pine Islands by Marion Poschmann (German/German), translated by Jen Calleja (Profile Books, Serpent’s Tail)

Drive Your Plow Over The Bones Of The Dead by Olga Tokarczuk (Polish/Polish), translated by Antonia Lloyd-Jones (Fitzcarraldo Editions)

The Shape of the Ruins by Juan Gabriel Vásquez (Spanish/Colombian), translated by Anne McLean (Quercus, MacLehose Press)

The Remainder by Alia Trabucco Zeran (Spanish/Chilean and Italian), translated by Sophie Hughes (And Other Stories)

Curious about the great books that didn’t make the shortlist? Check out the complete 2019 Man Booker International Prize Longlist.

What’s ONCE UPON A TIME in Tamil? Story Starters Around the World

Anyone who grew up reading in English is probably familiar with the story starting formula that opens most folktales: “Once upon a time.”

Often, story starters from other cultures are translated as “once upon a time.” But that’s usually not what they mean—at least not literally. Children’s book author Chitra Soundar wanted to gather story starters from around the world.

She started with Tamil:

Across Twitter, readers and writers responded with enthusiasm.

“A long time ago”

Japanese translator Avery Udagawa responded with the formula: “むかしむかし…mukashi mukashi…long ago long ago.”

Whoever tweets from the bookshop Barker and Jones added that, “In Irish it’s ‘fadó, fadó.'” They write that this means, “literally ‘long ago, long ago’ but usually translates as ‘longer ago than long ago’ or ‘long ago and longer ago’.”

Filipino children’s book author Candy Gourlay writes that, “In the Philippines it is ‘Noong unang panahon’…I had never thought of it but roughly translated it means ‘In the first of times’…I habitually interpreted it as ‘Once upon a time’ but that is not what it says.”

“In a place far away”

Polish fairy-tales often start with the phrase ‘za górami, za lasami’ (literally: beyond mountains, beyond forests),” according to writer Anna Maria Tuckett‏. She says it’s “the equivalent of ‘in a land far away.'”

Scholar Lalitha Joseph writes that, “In Malayalam we have ‘Oridathu, oridathu’. It’s concerned with space. It cannot be accurately translated into English but sounds more like ‘Once in a space (place)…’.”

“It happened, it didn’t”

Publisher Delaram Ghanimifard‏ writes, “In Farsi we say ‘yeki bood, yeki nabood’, meaning ‘one was, one wasn’t!’ یکی بود یکی نبود

This isn’t far from the Arabic,  كان ياما كان / there was, there wasn’t. It’s also similar to Maltese folktales, which according to Saviour Pirotta‏, often start with “This might have happened and it might have not…”

This is, in turn, not unlike Romani, according to translator and linguist Christopher Hughes. In Romani, he says, stories begin, “‘sas kaj sas, thaj shaj te maj avel’, which broadly translates as ‘it was what it was and it might well be again’, which I’ve always loved from a positive thinking point of view!”

And linguist Katie Cox added this is similar in Czech: “we usually start a fairytale with the following: ‘Bylo nebylo. Za devatero horami a devatero řekami… Byl jednou jeden král…’ which quite literally means ‘There was something and there wasn’t. Beyond nine mountains and nine rivers…there lived a king…’”

Call and Response

According to writer and historian Molara Wood‏, in Yoruba, traditional stories often begin with a call and response. 

A pediatric nurse named Pardina responds that, “In the Caribbean (or my little part of it, at least), #storystarters tend to have audience participation. So the narrator will say in Creole ‘E dit kwik?’ (I say creek) and the audience replies ‘kwak’ (crack!).”

There are many more responses to Soundar’s thread. For more, check out the Twitter thread, or go to Chitra Soundar’s website, where she’s turned it into a slideshare. She’s also written more about how she’s applied story starters in her last two books, You’re Safe With Me and You’re Snug With Me, both illustrated by Poonam Mistry.