Best Translated Book Award Longlists Najwan Darwish’s ‘Nothing More to Lose’

Yesterday, the US-based Best Translated Book Award (BTBA) released its poetry and fiction longlists:

nothingThe poetry list was announced first, at 10 a.m. EST, and it featured seventeen titles, including one from the Arabic: Najwan Darwish’s Nothing More to Lose, translated by Kareem James Abu-Zeid. The BTBA thus becomes the first translation prize of 2015 to acknowledge the rich stream of Arabic poetry in translation from 2014, which included Fady Joudah’s marvelous version of Amjad Nasser’s Petra and several others.

The BTBA poetry prize — like the 2015 PEN poetry in translation prize  — also longlisted Where Are the Trees Going? by Lebanese poet Venus Khoury-Ghata, translated from the French by Marilyn Hacker.

There were several other BTBA-longlisted titles that overlapped with the PEN’s ten-title poetry longlist, including Guantanamo by Frank Smith, translated from the French by Vanessa Place.

The largest number of titles on the BTBA poetry longlist were translated from the French, although there was also a collection translated from the Pashto, one from the Slovenian, one from the Korean, and one from Chinese. The poetry list looks to have work from a variety of traditions, styles, and languages.

BTBA fiction longlist: Spanish-heavy

The twenty-five-title fiction list was announced an hour later, at 11 a.m. EST. Although there was a good deal of overlap with the UK-based International Foreign Fiction Prize (IFFP) and the US-based PEN translation prize for prose, the BTBA had the most Spanish-language heavy list. The 2015 IFFP longlist was, meanwhile, German-heavy.

None of English’s three big translation prizes — IFFP, PEN, or BTBA — selected any books translated from Arabic for their 2015 prose longlists.

Among prose works published last year were: Hassan Blasim’s short-story collection The Corpse Exhibition, chosen as one of the 10 best of the year by Publishers Weekly: Jabbour Douaihy’s beautiful June Rain, translated by Paula Haydar; African Titanics, by Abu Bakr Hamid Khaal, trans. Charis Bredin (only released in the UK); Vols. 3 and 4. of Ahmad Faris al-Shidyaq’s Leg over Leg, trans. Humphrey Davies; Amjad Nasser’s Land of No Rain, beautifully translated by Jonathan Wright; and Nael Eltoukhy’s wild, fun, and very Egyptian Women of Karantina, translated by Robin Moger.