Four major Anglophone international-literature prizes announce winners or finalists today: the Best Translated Book Award (BTBA, 2:30 p.m. EST), the Independent Foreign Fiction Prize (IFFP), the PEN/Heim translation grants, and the Neustadt (7:30 p.m MST):
The BTBA and IFFP have announced their winners — the BTBA in fiction and poetry, and the IFFP for its single fiction list. There was no Arab writer or Arabic-language novel on this year’s IFFP shortlist, which was taken by Jenny Erpenbeck’s The End of Days, trans. Susan Bernofsky. But on the BTBA poetry shortlist, Lebanese poet Venus Khoury-Ghata’s Where Are the Trees Going? made the cut. The book was translated from the French by prominent US poet Marilyn Hacker.
Khoury-Ghata and Hacker’s book also made the Library Journal’s “Editors’ Picks” for BookExpo America 2014 and the longlist for the 2015 PEN award for poetry in translation.
The collection was published by Northwestern University Press, and interleaves a full translation of Khoury-Ghata’s volume of poetry Où vont les arbres with prose from her La maison aux orties. Khoury-Ghata is much-celebrated in France, having won the 2011 Prix Goncourt for her lifetime’s work, but is lesser-known in English.
But the poetry prize, which was announced today at 2:30 p.m. at the Book Expo America, went instead to Rocío Céron’s Diorama, translated from the Spanish by Anna Rosenwong. The fiction prize went to Can Xue’s The Last Lover, translated by Annelise Finegan Wasmoen.
The PEN/Heim grants were also announced today. There were eight prose and eight poetry winners coming from 13 languages. Although there were four Arabic applications among this year’s record-breaking 226, no Arabic-English projects received grants.
The Neustadt Prize, meanwhile, will be announcing not its winner, but its 2016 finalists, at 7:30 p.m. MST. The prize, which styles itself as an “American Nobel,” is unusual in that each judge chooses her or his own single nominee. The panel of nine judges is then set to meet in October to choose from these a winner.
This year’s Neustadt judges are: translator Alison Anderson, novelist Porochista Khakpour, novelist Valeria Luiselli, poet Amit Majmudar, poet-translator Valzhyna Mort, poet Mukoma Wa Ngugi, playwright Jordan Tannahill, novelist-playwright Padma Viswanathan, and poet Wang Ping.
No Arabic-writing author has ever won the prize, although Algerian writer Assia Djebar took the prize in 1996, and last year Palestinian poet Ghassan Zaqtan was one of the finalists, nominated by Palestinian poet-translator Fady Joudah.