Of course PW’s reviewers haven’t read all the books that have come out this year — and likely few of the Arabic books in translation, which are not widely reviewed — but they did choose The Corpse Exhibition from a pool of around 9,000:
Even better, among the 10 chosen on this year’s top list, there are three books that were translated from other languages: Blasim’s, from the Arabic by Jonathan Wright; Emmanuel Carrère’s Limonov, translated from the French by John Lambert; and Elena Ferrante’s Those Who Leave and Those Who Stay,translated from the Italian by Ann Goldstein.
These is excellent attention for freshly translated literature in the US.
Moreover, even more translated titles were chosen for this year’s fiction longlist, including books from the Spanish, German, Danish, Dutch, and Russian. More than a third of the longer fiction list — 9 out of 25 — were translated literature.
Certainly, in particular, this has been a remarkable year for Blasim’s work in English (brought here by Jonathan Wright): In May, Blasim and Wright won the 2014 Independent Foreign Fiction Prize (IFFP) for The Iraqi Christ, which became the first Arabic book and the first collection of short stories to win the IFFP; in July, Iraq + 100, a short-story collection edited by Blasim, won a PEN grant; in July and August, a theatrical adaptation of Blasim’s short story “The Nightmares of Carlos Fuentes” was staged in London.
All the while, Blasim’s US-published collection — which brings together stories from both his UK collections — got wide attention in the US press.
It is unusual attention for a translated book of short stories by an author who doesn’t have a Nobel, or really any prize attention in Arabic. Hopefully, some of this heightened attention can shine onto other books out in 2014: Amjad Nasser’s Land of No Rain, Nael Eltoukhy’s Women of Karantina, the rest of al-Shidyaq’s Leg over Leg, Youssef Rakha’s Sultan’s Seal, as well as many remarkable books forthcoming in 2015.
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